United Way Summer Camp Fair

Ramsey, Timothy. “Local organizations’ camps combat summer learning loss for students. The Chronicle, May 11, 2022.

During the summer, students can lose up to 25% of what they learned in the school year. To help combat this issue, the United Way of Forsyth County recently held a summer camp fair at the Salvation Army Citadel that addressed the learning loss issue. Many of these camps are still accepting students.

“If students are not engaged in some meaningful way over the summer, then they really do regress and so much of what they learned in the previous school year can be lost,” said Rodd Smith, director of United Way’s Place Matters Initiative. “It’s important we create engaging and academically stimulating programming to support students during the summer.

“I believe that even with a break, that doesn’t mean that we can’t still have fun with learning. I think that’s what we have seen, particularly with the summer programs we support. We are hoping that parents will take advantage of the summer camps that are being offered. Many are free and those that aren’t free have scholarships available.”

The fair was the idea of the Resident Impact Council of the Place Matters Initiative who informed the United Way that their kids needed educational activities to participate during the summer months.  

“Our residents told us many times they don’t know about programs offered during the summer until it’s too late, so our Resident Impact Council, who are informed by the parents who live in our neighborhoods, they told us they would like to see some kind of summer camp fair and the offerings there were in the county,” said Smith about how the fair came about.

“We acted quickly because what we also learned is that many parents don’t realize how close the summer is until after spring break. We are already talking about how we can make this event bigger and better for next year.”

The organizations that are supported by the United Way with summer programs are: Action 4 Equity’s Freedom Schools; Ken Carlson Boys and Girls Club; Winston-Salem Urban League – Read Urban; WSSU Rams-C; The Reading and Math Summer Camp; YMCA Summer Learning Academy; YWCA Best Choice Summer Camp; TURN (Through Unity Reform is N-evitable); Imprints Cares; and Grace Presbyterian JRAMS. 

The best way to obtain information on any of these organizations is to call 211 or visit NC211.org, which is the United Way’s local referral service.

The United Way is making a tangible difference with their Place Matters Initiative and this fair was another product of it. They are actively listening to the community and making all attempts to address the concerns and wants of the citizens.

“I am proud to be a part of an organization that has been welcomed to the community’s table to help address its issues,” said Smith. “I am enthused by our continued support of the Place Matters work, particularly when it’s resident-led and resident informed.

“We talk about equity in a lot of different places in our community, but Place Matters and the way that it works is particularly an equity model because it puts the power back into the hands of the community that’s being directly impacted.”

Smith wants more parents to reach out to the United Way’s educational partners for any openings for summer camp to help fight the summer learning loss issues.