As the nation’s schools emerge from their third year of education during the pandemic, teachers are discovering a new set of challenges for kids today. From social anxiety, a lack of motivation, and an erosion of skills, the pandemic was particularly challenging for kids in middle school. Enter Camp Color, a three-day, humanities-based summer workshop geared toward encouraging middle schoolers to connect with one another and to love learning again. Now in its second year, Camp Color will be hosted by St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Islip from July 5 to July 7 and Church of the Advent in Westbury from July 11 to July 13. and is free of charge for participants thanks to a grant from Episcopal Ministries.
“Last year’s camp was a great experience for us all, but the biggest takeaway for me was how offering a welcoming space for creativity and connection allowed kids to be kids. By the second day of the workshop, they went from quiet and shy to laughing and engaged,” says co-founder and high school English teacher Nadine Palumbo. Working with a colleague, world language teacher Anthony Vittorino, Palumbo wanted to foster a flexible environment where campers had choices in activities. “After a year of on-line learning, students were craving hands-on experiences.”
Last year, 35 youth leaders and campers attended the workshops. “After COVID, it was like reconnecting with life and hope,” said Shriya Desai, a high school senior and Camp Color youth leader. “We took inspiration from the activities and made them our own.”
Parents of last year’s campers are enthusiastic about signing their kids up for year two. “My daughter would LOVE to come back to Camp Color. She’s been asking since last summer,” said parent Kiersten Caporina.
In addition to Camp Color providing another round of community building and hands-on activities, Palumbo is hoping the program’s formula could be a model for other churches and organizations. “My ultimate goal is to share something that can be replicated in other communities. Like VBS [Vacation Bible School], Camp Color’s activities can be developed and modified by other parishes and groups who want to offer an enriching experience for their local middle schoolers.”
For an application or to ask about bringing Camp Color to your community, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.