Sullivan Summer Camp in full swing
The Summer Camp at Springfield Housing Authority’s Sullivan Apartments seems to have it all – hiking, other outdoor activities, arts and crafts, movies, swimming and literacy projects.
Indeed, in the eyes of the two dozen children who attend most weekdays, it’s an ideal situation.
“I like summer camp. It’s really fun,” said Belle Davis, who is 10 and a pupil at the nearby Boland Elementary School. “We get to do a lot of field trips, and a lot of other stuff. It’s always a good time.”
Best of all are the twice-weekly trips to Camp Weber in West Springfield, where the Sullivan cohort spends the days hiking, climbing, swimming and more. Those regular field trips occur every Monday and Thursday, according to Camp Director Jenna Reyes.
The summer camp is a collaborative of the YMCA of Greater Springfield, and SHA’s Talk/Read/Succeed! family-based early literacy program. Children in the summer program attend weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with each day bringing a fun agenda of its own. There are weekly trips to the movies, along with weekly trips to area lakes or the beach.
And as is the hallmark of all T/R/S! programs, children in the camp are also getting a healthy dose of literacy-based activities, including reading, drawing, word games and arts and crafts, said Reyes.
“It’s summer, so we want them to have a lot of fun and do things that keep them physically active,” said Reyes. The YMCA provides after-school programming at Sullivan during the academic year, with a focus on homework and literacy along with other activities.
“But we definitely want them to keep reading and retain the things they learned in school, so we work in activities that include reading and literacy,” she noted.
The camp runs through Aug. 24, just before children go back to school. Participants range in age from 6 to 12.
For their part, children are happy to participate.
“Summer camp is really fun,” said Amia Morales, who is 9. “I like everything about it. Camp Weber is the best, and the movies are good too.”
Camper Joeliani Roche, who is 7, put it simply: “Camp is great. I like it.”
For 15-year-old Freddy Dominguez, the Summer Camp means a summer job for him. He is one of four Sullivan teens who work as junior counselors, helping YMCA staff to organize and work with children.
“I enjoy this a lot,” said Dominguez. “It’s great working with the kids. I love working with people, and I’m learning a lot of good job skills. It’s my first real job, and I’m saving the money for anything I might need in the fall.”
Come September, he will be a sophomore at the Roger Putnam Vocational Technical Academy, studying machine technology.
Zenaida Burgos is T/R/S! Program Coordinator, and said the summer program is running smoothly, providing Sullivan children with learning and fun opportunities, and teens a chance to work a real job.
“This is a great collaboration between the housing authority and the YMCA,” Burgos noted. “It’s place-based, meaning the children come right here when they start out their day, no need for parents to drive them anywhere.
“For the teens, it gives them a chance to build work skills, and to save money for school. It gives them leadership and team-building schools, and teaches them how to be dependable – skills they will need in the future,” she added.
Talk/Read/Succeed! is in its seventh year of providing an array of literacy-based programs and services, tying in SHA family developments with their feeder schools. This year, the program expanded to a third site – Duggan Park Apartments and Indian Orchard Elementary School. Other sites are Sullivan and Boland, and Robinson Gardens Apartments and Dorman Elementary School.
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