More than 200 students from kindergarten through high school grades joined in Bible study, fun, character building and reconnections with friends, staff and volunteers.  It all took place during July under the “Camp Courage” theme for kindergarten through fifth grade and “The SPOT” for youth attendees.

There was also a strong family focus that included movie nights as well as events and opportunities that engaged parents.

Please enjoy this recap of Camp Courage activities at KidWorks

Camp Courage: Kindergarten-5th Grade

One hundred students in grades kindergarten through fifth returned to KidWorks for a great Camp Courage experience, says Karina Flores, Site Director for our Townsend Center. They participated in a hybrid program comprised of a hourlong Zoom event twice a week, along with an option for in person attendance twice a week of one hour to 90 minutes (depending on their grade level).

“Providing parents and students the option of participating virtually and/or in person helped ease the transition from what had been exclusively an online KidWorks experience due to the pandemic,” Karina says. “Whether students joined summer programs virtually, in-person or both provided a way to still connect with staff, volunteers and friends. It was truly heartwarming seeing the students for the first time in over a year.”

Adds Karina, “Students participated in fun, interactive games on the days we connected virtually. It was also great to see our volunteers take the lead on some of the online games.”

Karina says onsite activities included sports, crafts and board games. “Our students enjoyed having a variety of fun options during programs,” she says.

Bible study continued to be a strong focus of summer programs, as it always has.

“We had two main biblical heroes we focused on this summer, Joshua and Esther,” Karina says. “We created lessons highlighting their dedication and strong faith in God and how this gave them the courage to follow God’s will.”

Adds Karina, “We connected these themes to what the students experienced during the pandemic, highlighting how they, too, were resilient like Joshua and Esther; even in the midst of the unknown, God came through for them as well.”

Karina says the staff and volunteers saw firsthand how much Camp Courage meant to the students.

“Students were thrilled and excited to come back!” she says. “And parents let us know how much their students enjoyed connecting once again at the centers.”

The Spot: 6th – 12th grade

Thirty students, ages 11 through 17, enjoyed a summer to remember, says Cynthia Gomez, our Youth Lead.

“We picked ‘The SPOT’ as our theme for the youth summer program because we want the youth to think of KidWorks as the “the spot” to be during the summer and then in the fall,” Cynthia says. 

The hybrid program included in-person daytime activities at our centers four times a week for 90 minutes each, two 90-minute in-person evening sessions and twice-a-week evening Zoom get-togethers for 90 minutes each.

“We wanted the students to feel they had choices again and the liberty to pick their activities and locations,” Cynthia says. “The small group format was a plus because it didn’t feel overwhelming while also allowing for a slower pace while we get into the swing of being back in person again.”

Adds Cynthia, “One of the goals for the summer was to prepare students for returning to in-person programs both at school and at KidWorks from an emotional and mental standpoint. That’s why we chose the topic of courage. We perceived that some students may understandably have reservation, concerns and a level of fear about going back to school, even if also excited about doing so. We wanted them to collectively think about what it means to face difficult things in life. Our hope is that as they return to school and KidWorks, they’ll be excited to try new things again.”

The youth summer had both a fun and more serious side.

“On the lighter side, students made their own backgrounds for their phone cases, created anime stickers and enjoyed watercolor arts,” Cynthia says. “The students also enjoyed making whipped iced coffee and playing sports outside.”

At a deeper level, KidWorks also included our traditional Bible study element into summer programs.

“This summer we introduced ‘Life Chats’ where students were encouraged to think about the hobbies and subjects they love and how they can trust and build a relationship with God as they pursue their dreams,” Cynthia says. “We are hoping the impact is a long-lasting and soothing reminder that God sees them, loves them, and is for them.”

“Another of the more serious components were the guest speaker segments on Zoom,” Cynthia adds. “Guest speakers spoke on topics such as ‘what is courage?’, relating how David from the Bible demonstrated courage despite his young age. Another speaker told his story about how he chased his dream of playing soccer abroad by selling snacks and applying himself while trusting God. Finally, we had a Young Professional for KidWorks member speak on the importance of investing money long-term as a way to create wealth starting from an early age, explaining the concept of saving and investing because ‘time on your side.’”

Parents & Families

“We’ve been very mindful to maintain a consistent communication with our families and parents throughout the pandemic and throughout these unprecedented times,” says Sonia Rios-Guzman, our Parent Engagement Coordinator.

It all began with a summer kickoff event where families from all three KidWorks centers picked up kits full of activities that they could do together during the summer.

Adds Sonia, “I believe we’ve created a beautiful bond with many of our parents, to the point where they trust KidWorks and our safety protocols, guidelines, and regulations. The moms and dads feel comfortable to have their children return to in-person KidWorks programs.”

Sonia said that movie nights created a family aspect to summer programs.

“The movie nights were truly a hit!” Sonia says. “Parents and their sons and daughters could come as a family and enjoy a nice movie together. During these events, we made sure to maintain our safety protocols, including wearing masks, taking temperatures, wellness checks and social distancing.

e as a family and enjoy a nice movie together. During these events, we made sure to maintain our safety protocols, including wearing masks, taking temperatures, wellness checks and social distancing.

“All of this served to engage parents and students parents as we plan for in person afterschool programs,” Sonia says. “This engagement included community clean-ups in all three of our sites that were open to families and neighbors. Each community clean-up took place on Saturday mornings to accommodate families. This was a great way to be out in the community and serve the neighborhoods at the same time.”

And a Big “Thank You” to Supporters

“Everyone at KidWorks would like to send out a very big shout out of thanks to our summer volunteers and to our generous sponsors,” says Noemi Juarez, our Director of After School Programs.

“We are so grateful to all of our program partners who helped make summer a success.”

By Glenn Leibowitz, volunteer writer