During the summer children experience “summer learning loss” when they are not involved in high quality programs with opportunities for skill building.  As a result, young people can forget up to 2 months of academic instruction, particularly in the areas of reading and math when they are not in school. Camps and other youth development programs provide the opportunity to reduce summer learning loss in an expanded learning environment where children are engaged experientially and have an opportunity for additional academic enrichment. 

Summer Learing Loss:  Did you know?

  • Many children experience “summer learning loss” during the summer months, which means they forget the equivalent of up to two months of academic instruction as measured by grade level equivalents on standardized tests.
  • Research shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004).
  • Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months (Cooper, 1996).
  • More than half of the achievement gap between lower and higher income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college(Alexander et al, 2007).

Three Things Camps Can Do TODAY

  1. Make reflection an intentional part of each day. Provide a journal to each of your campers and integrate journal sharing into your campfire programs.
  2. Start an "Explore 30" reading program at your camp, where each camper spends 30 minutes reading each day (during rest periods, free time, or before lights out).
  3. Connect with your local libraries, civic organizations, or faith-based organizations for book donations to start a camp book club or camp library.

Summer Learning Resources from ACA

  • ACA Bookstore - Find great summer learning tools for educators, out-of-school time professionals, and other child and youth professionals
  • Camp-School Partnership Guidebook (MS Word) - For information about how to create camp-school partnerships, read Creating Camp-School Partnerships: A Guidebook to Success published by the American Camp Association.

Resources from the National Summer Learning Association