PORT JERVIS, N.Y.–For most school districts in Orange County, school’s out. For kids, it means a few months of doing some other activity than going to class.
Kids just want to have fun, and municipalities in Orange County are providing lots of opportunities for just that. Port Jervis has scheduled a full array of programs for every age group. Several parks have supervised playground hours for the younger set, cooking, bowling, and basketball activities scheduled.
The Youth Center provides opportunities to play video games, ping pong, foosball, or pool. There is Arts and Crafts day on Mondays, Bowling Day on Wednesdays and an Activity Day on Fridays all summer.
Many towns have summer camps for supervised activities such as swimming and hiking or more focused sports camps for soccer, volleyball, basketball, or tennis. Summer teams for youth play street hockey or softball. There are also track events in the 100-meter dash, high jump, and shot put. Some towns sponsor field trips to major league baseball games or water parks.
Towns take summer recreation activities seriously. Mt. Hope’s summer recreation committee recently noted the certification of seven staffers in CPR and almost 140 happy campers on the first day of camp.
Middletown’s “Summer Happenings” covers activities from cheerleading to using the traveling bookmobile. The city has three outdoor pools which are usually full to capacity. There is a twilight track and field program, cross country races, and tennis clinics.
Goshen has camps for every interest. Next Stop Hollywood! teaches songs from movie musicals like Grease, Oliver, and Hairspray and caps it off with a final performance. There is chess, Zumba, tennis, knitting, and youth basketball. Sports clubs are organized for Little League, soccer, cheerleading, and lacrosse.
Too Much Time Off, or Not
Juliet Lapidos, in an article for Time.com, asked whether so much time off from school was good for kids. After all, working adults still must head for the office or factory even in hot weather.
Lapidos says that the school year in the 19th century was longer—around 250 days—with short breaks between quarters. “But since education wasn’t mandatory in most states until the 1870s, attendance was low. Despite the official schedule, many kids ended up spending the same amount of time in school back then as they do now.”
Since many kids didn’t go to school anyway, the school year was shortened by about 60 days. Summer was the block of time that school was out for three reasons in the city, says Lapidos: “1) Poorly-ventilated school buildings were nearly unbearable during heat waves. 2) Community leaders fretted that hot, crowded environments facilitated the spread of disease. 3) Wealthy urbanites traditionally vacationed during the hottest months, and middle-class school administrators were following in their footsteps.” In rural areas, youngsters were needed to help with growing crops, harvesting, and farm chores.
Some say that long breaks from school disrupt a student’s learning. We’ve got better-ventilated school buildings, disease is not rampant there, and vacations for administrators are in line with the rest of society, so why not have a longer school year.
According to the Johns Hopkins Center for Summer Learning, kids score worse on standardized tests in early September than in late June. Plus, students in other industrialized countries have more instructional time.
Some say it’s more complicated. Research indicates kids from middle- and upper-income families actually improve their reading skills over the summer, while lower-income kids lose two months of reading acuity.
Researchers have found, however, that children who frequent libraries during the summer, even the less privileged, become exceptional summer learners. Ann Murphy Paul, writing for Time online, says that “as simple as it sounds, reading books can reverse the summer slide in literacy skills for even the poorest children.”
Summer can be a wondrous time of exploration and personal discovery, of just doing nothing, to engaging in an activity all day every day. Kids can daydream all they want and not be called for it. They can run and jump until they tire and not BE told to sit still. Summer can be the best of time of the year.
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