The temptation for kids to get into trouble during the summer is nothing new. It’s just that there are so many more opportunities for mischief and misfortune than there used to be.
The Boys & Girls Clubs of Durham and Orange Counties’ Great Futures Summer Camp wants to limit those opportunities when school’s out.
“These kids might have just stayed in their neighborhoods, wandered around unsupervised, gotten into trouble or maybe even being victims of trouble,” said Benay Hicks, director of operations at the Boys & Girls Club. “Instead, they’re here engaged and learning, with friends and responsible adults.”
The camp, which runs from mid-June through August 11, serves 80-90 children a day. This summer, 50 of the Durham campers aged 6-18 are attending as part of a scholarship program funded by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) in honor of outgoing Durham Mayor William Bell. Mayor Bell has been a strong advocate for children during his 16-year tenure as Durham’s mayor.
At the camp, children have a wide range of choices in exercise and play activities, even including yoga. But the camp goes beyond physical education.
“The summer camp is really important to these kids because we can lessen the education gap between spring and fall, so the kids will be able to go back to school and be better students,” said Hicks. “Summer is when a lot of kids start falling behind in academics or meeting the wrong kind of people, and this camp is a way to prevent that. It can change lives.”
Campers take trips to parks and museums to learn about the environment and our state’s history. They also gain some practical skills in anger management and conflict resolution.
“In the first 10 days of the camp, the kids who received the Mayor Bell scholarships have learned to engage with peers, to respect each other and adults, and they’ve learned rules – how to be responsible, how to learn, how to sit in a classroom and listen,” said Hicks. “Already, we’ve seen changes in the last week-and-a-half in their behavior and development.”
Seven-year-old Naima – going into second grade this fall – is in her first year at the camp.
“I’ve made friends with some people here already and we’re learning things,” Naima said. “I like learning about math. I want to be a teacher so I can teach math and science. And I like computers.”
To learn more about the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Durham and the Great Futures Summer Camp, visit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Durham and Orange Counties’ website.