Preventing Summer Slide with Wild Readers Camp

Happy Sunday Readers!  I hope this finds you relaxing and enjoying the spring weather versus sitting with your laptop all day like most Sundays. As the year winds down, we are all test weary and stressed with all the things on our end of the year checklists.  I got mine last week, and it always seems so daunting. 

Well, as you can tell from the post header, I'm going to share an idea for reducing summer slide. Last summer, we ran our first summer reading camp, and I must say that it was a huge success.  We are coming back for camp session number two this summer. At first glance, putting it together and running it may seem like a big job, but honestly, many hands makes work light.  

Getting Started  
The first step to organizing your own Wild Readers Camp (after all, isn't that the type of reader you want?) is to select your target age group and students.  We are working with a local college to run our program which means we have a group of students working with the program as part of their practicum.  The college chose to work with rising first and second graders, and our staff works with rising third and fourth graders. We limited the total number of students to ten per grade, so the students experience lots of small group attention. On ce students are identified, letters are sent inviting them to the program which really is advertised as a fun camp opportunity.  We want the kids to want to come after all.  Here is the letter introducing the program, the registration form, and the emergency medical. I am sharing it in a template form so that you can tailor it to your own needs. Just add your dates and details, and you are good to go.  [Click Here] to download the forms.

Running the Camp
We were able to fund the camp using Title 1 funding which covered paying a few teachers, our librarian, and covering transportation costs. For our students coming to camp, transportation really is important. We also were able to provide snacks with the help of our local food bank.  The camp runs from 8:30 to 11:30 Monday through Thursday for three weeks.

The Basic Plan
To make it light and fun, we chose to pick a theme a week, and I actually had my group choose from options I gave them. They ended up picking oceans, animals, and weather last summer, but I'm not sure what we'll go with this summer.  I'm thinking insects, camping, and travel might be fun for this summer.  From there, the planning part is easy. Of course, I started with Teachers Pay Teachers, and honestly, I found all the materials for free. I added in tradebook sets we had (a mixture of fiction and nonfiction), word study games I already had, technology, and time with the librarian, and that was it. We spent our time focused on word work, fluency (poem of the day and readers theater), reading/comprehension, and writing. I made our sessions more project oriented (the kids love working on projects and in cooperative groups).  The librarian worked with the group 45 minutes to allow independent reading time, check out time, and time for Accelerated Reader (kids were able to accumulate "bonus points" toward first quarter goals).  We also used the computer lab for a 30 minute block as well which allowed me to work in a little math.  Trust me, the three hours goes quickly because we are honestly having a great time.  

The Benefits
  • Camp is fun, and the kids begin to see reading as a fun activity versus hard work when it's relaxed and comfy. 
  • Because we are able to work in such a small setting, the teachers helping with the camp get to know the students well too making an important connection. 
  • They are able to recognize student strengths and weaknesses which helps prepare for the coming year. 
  • With the library open for camp, we are also able to offer library check out and Accelerated Reader time to all other students.  The last forty five minutes of camp was offered to anyone wishing to check out, and many took advantage of the opportunity.
  • Teachers get to choose how and what they want to teach in our program, so for me, that is liberating.  The time is not focused on following a pacing guide or set standard, but is just meant to keep our students reading and engaged.
  • For parents, it keeps the kids socializing and busy with positive activities versus being home watching tv.  
The Results
Last summer, the parents were thrilled with their children's enthusiasm and growth, as were we. Teachers were able to communicate student needs for follow up time (remainder of the summer), and we all decided to host it again this summer. Students enjoyed having their work showcased at open house too. We displayed their work and pictures of the kids which made everyone feel so proud.

Interested in more information?
If you'd like more information, I blogged about each week last summer.  You can read about each week's theme below.

What do you do to help your students in the summer?  I would love it if you could share in the comments. 
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  1. Carla- This looks wonderful! You provided so many helpful details and specifics. Makes me want to attend camp! :-) Lauren

    1. Ah! Thanks Lauren! It was a lot of fun for the kids last summer, so I hope they enjoy it again this year. Thanks for dropping by.


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