Why black students are successful at summer camp

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When the school year comes to an end and things heat up, the summer months look different for everyone. Some kids shoot hoops at basketball camp while others sit by the pool or earn some money at a summer job.

Millions of black children are enrolled in summer camps each summer, with participation increasing steadily since 2008. And a trend among Black parents is choosing programs that engage their children in learning and keep them from losing academic ground during recess.

When she started DC-based Kids & Culture Camp over a decade ago, Jania Otey created a cure for a problem she saw. Otey, who has been homeschooling her children all her life, was looking for an all-encompassing summer program. She was “disappointed with the offerings.”

“The camps had a very unique focus,” she says. “Actually, I wanted something more for my children. In particular, I wanted a camp that encompassed many different aspects that focused on enrichment, but also a large part of the culture that you wouldn’t get in a traditional school setting.”

Not too far away in Richmond, Virginia, Angela Patton was on a similar mission. She walked her neighborhood promoting her Camp Diva Leadership Academy, which focused on helping girls get out of the house and learn how to use their voice.

“What struck me was the lack of programming that would appeal to me [girls], and other people joined me,” says Patton. “They started to see that young girls needed a space of their own.”

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