The cost for a family to participate in summer learning at a camp can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars per week, according to the American Camp Association.
If summer break is around 10 weeks long, that’s a considerably large price tag on many types of summer exploration and fun.
This cost presents barriers to many Colorado families and proves that access to learning opportunities during the summer is dependent on what parents can afford and socioeconomic class.
Furthermore, the geographical placement of these camps tends to congregate around certain areas of Denver and these areas of hoarded opportunity tend to be where a majority of white, higher income families are likely to reside, according to a recent report by the Center for Reinventing Public Education (CRPE). So in effect, the cost barrier is compounded by geography, which has major implications to access based on race.
Summer is a time that conjures up a feeling of joy, a relishing of the sun’s rays and unmitigated fun for many people.
This is also a time where youth across our state are learning new skills, exploring their passions and making new friends. While quality summer learning opportunities can help offset learning loss that can occur in the summer, it also helps foster a space outside of school for youth to further their development into healthy individuals and engaged citizens.
Not being able to participate in this season of learning can be extraordinarily suppressive. The good news is that many camps offer full and partial scholarships to support the financial burden for families across the city.
The bad news is that this information is not widely accessible and this support often does not include transportation services. When resources such as scholarships are left unknown, inaccessibility continues, and thus inequitable outcomes flourish across class and race.
According to the study by CRPE, which used data from ReSchool’s Blueprint4SummerCO website along with other sources, areas of high access are clustered in the central areas of Denver while areas of low access are clustered farther away from the center, at the northeast, far northeast and far southwest.
These areas of low access are most densely populated by Black and Latino families. Furthermore, high access areas correlate with higher levels of household income and educational attainment.
This means race and class matters when it comes to attending summer camps. A silver lining here is that while camps are congregated in certain areas, public resources such as libraries and recreation centers are more equally distributed across the city and offer free and widely accessible summer programming.
ReSchool Colorado, a local non-profit working to better understand the inequality of summer learning across Denver and how to most effectively distribute resources in pursuit of access and equitable outcomes, is working to break down these barriers and make summer learning more accessible for everyone.
In response to the CRPE report, ReSchool is specifically working to identify and support camps that are located in low-access areas, led by people of color, as well as make scholarships and in some cases, transportation subsidies, available.
We also seek to amplify organizations and activities that integrate culture and identity into programming such as, Visions Performing Arts, working to preserve African-American performing arts and celebrating African-American History for future generations, and Museo de las Americas, building cultural competencies and unlocking new understanding of academic content through summer programming focused on the arts and cultures of the Americas.
ReSchool launched the Blueprint4SummerCO tool in 2018 that identifies thousands of camps in the metro area in an effort to make information more easily and readily available to families.
Just like with in-school learning, every family in Colorado deserves equal access to out-of- school summer learning, no matter their race or socioeconomic status.
We are taking the lead and calling on our communities and camp providers across the state to take a multi-dimensional approach to create more evenly distributed spaces for summer fun, adventure and exploration for all children.
Selamawit Gebre leads out-of-school and summer learning work at ReSchool Colorado.