Books, Boats, and Backpacks: Summer at Jubilee Youth Services

Rebekah TaftBlog

Whether it’s through reading books, paddling down the Shenandoah River, or shopping for school supplies,  Jubilee Youth Services (JYS) summer program is filled with opportunities for kids to have fun while fighting summer learning loss.

“Summer lIMG_4661earning loss is one of the most significant causes of achievement gap between many lower income youth and their higher income counterparts,” said Sylvia Stokes, vice president of programs at Jubilee Housing. “Our six-week summer program is designed to help students have active, enjoyable, enriching summers, where they are exposed to new opportunities that stem this summer learning loss. Because of our summer programs, many of our youth end the summer with no learning loss and are ready to begin the school year with academic tools to keep achieving.”

Stokes says that one of the most effective ways to prevent a decline in reading achievement from spring to fall is simple: reading. JYS’s summer program makes sure students have literacy support each day, whether it’s through silent reading, book clubs, or reading circles.

But learning extends far beyond traditional classroom activities. Exploring the world outside of the neighborhood provides natural learning and enrichment opportunities for IMG_6438students. One example of this is the JYS Swim and Canoe Program. For over two decades, local architect and nature enthusiast Dickson Carroll has volunteered his time to teach a group of Jubilee Housing kids how to swim and canoe. This summer, over 20 students participated in the program, which included eight one hour swimming lessons, a one hour canoe lesson on the Potomac River, and a daylong canoe trip down the Shenandoah River. Most of these students didn’t know how to swim or canoe before the start of the summer, yet they felt confident in their newfound abilities by the end of the program. “I love watching the kids adjust to the pace of the river by the end of the Shenandoah trip,” said one of the volunteer, noting their fearlessness in playing in the rapids, their curiosity in learning about the wildlife, and their calm while paddling out the last leg of the river as indicators of the program’s success.

Finally, no sumB2Smer at JYS would be complete without making sure students have all the school supplies necessary for the classroom. Each year, Jubilee Housing joins forces with the Jubilee Support Alliance to create a Back to School Store, where children and parents can “shop” for backpacks and other school supplies necessary for learning. This year, dozens of supporters donated time and money to make sure over 70 Jubilee Housing students could shop at the store.

As JYS students head back to school in the coming weeks, they won’t struggle with summer learning loss like many of their low-income peers. Because of their exposure to books, boats, and backpacks at JYS summer camp, they will have the academic tools they need to keep achieving.