Although summer is coming to a close, it has certainly been a memorable one for hundreds of youth in Philadelphia, thanks to our BOOST summer camp program.
“We really try to fuse academics with a lot of really fun summer activities,” explains Stacy McMurray Leonard, BOOST Program Manager.
700 students from eight elementary, middle and high schools in the city of Philadelphia enrolled in a total of 13 camp programs – this summer’s theme: “BOOST Takes a Walk on The Wild Side.” It is the program’s highest enrollment for summer camp to date. Stacy says they specially-designed this summer’s program as a way to give urban children the opportunity to be active and connect with nature.
Over the course of the six-week program, the students visited various environmental centers in Southeastern PA and New Jersey, as well as the Mount Laurel Funplex. Other trips included bowling, rock climbing (a first for most of the students and the staff!), and roller skating.
“It was really fun exploring, learning new things, working with people and meet new friends,” says 12- year old Kemani.
Middle school students also went on weekly college trips. High school students participated in camp through the Philadelphia Youth Network’s Work Ready program, serving in a camp counselor type role.
In addition to the fun activities and academic lessons, BOOST summer camp aims to promote social and emotional growth.
“We also help instill in the kids how important it is to believe in yourself and develop respect for yourself and others,” says Stacy.
And it’s something that’s made an impact on 12-year old Cordasia. “At first I wanted to be a nurse when I went to camp and now I want to be a chef, because we started cooking club.”
She also says the BOOST experience helped her gain a positive outlook on life
“Think about positive things that keep you active and spiritual and joyful …so I can get a good education and get a good job.”
Brandywine Picnic Park in Chester County was packed with hundreds of BOOST campers for the annual end-of-camp picnic celebration that featured a barbeque and outdoor activities such as a rock climbing wall, an inflatable water slide, mini golf, amusement rides and paddleboats.
“We’re only about 40 minutes outside of Philadelphia, but it’s a place that most of the kids and most of the staff have never been,” Stacy said at the August 7 picnic. “We brought the kids here so they could connect with nature… to get them running around, being kids.”
Many of the youth would not have the opportunity to go to camp if it wasn’t for the BOOST program, Stacy says. She and her staff are grateful for the community support that makes it possible for so many deserving young people to have this life-enriching experience.
“We work really hard to keep our camp affordable. Some of our camps are as low as $60 for the summer and we still provide scholarships and sliding scales when $60 is not affordable,” she says. “At the end of the day it’s really neat to know we’ve served so many children with a high quality program.”
VIDEO: See below for a fun video from the end-of-summer camp celebration at Brandywine Park!