The Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention (AIP)’s Summer Spot program at the Frederick Pilot Middle School uses field trips, peer leadership, mentorship by high schoolers, and academic enrichment activities, as well as psychosocial or social-emotional supports, to provide opportunities to develop new skills and meet new friends.
Students should have ample opportunity to provide feedback.
Enrichment activities can be co-designed with student input.
Having a “menu” of activities provides an opportunity for students to choose what they do.
Students can have great ideas about new activities!
Q: What process would a student go through to provide feedback on your program, or suggest ideas?
A: When students return their enrollment packets to Summer Spot staff, they are given a brief questionnaire with questions including:
- What do you like to be called?
- What do you like to do for fun?
- What do you want to get better at?
- What are you good at and could help others with?
- What should Summer Spot staff know about you to help you have an enjoyable and successful summer?
- What activities would you like to see offered at the Summer Spot?
On the first day of Summer Spot, we ask for volunteers to be on our Summer Spot Council. The Council meets weekly throughout the program and participating students have opportunities to provide feedback and suggestions regarding academic classes, enrichment activities, incentives and field trips. Council members plan the celebration for the last day of program and help to develop and implement special events.
Students complete evaluations in the third week of the program for all of the activities. Our plan is to be able to implement any additions or changes that students suggest for the second half of the program.
Q: How do you communicate these processes to students? Do many students use it?
A: We communicate these processes to all students during orientation, and the processes are also explained in our enrollment packet. On the first day of the program, the Summer Spot staff spend time reviewing expectations, procedures, incentives, etc. with all of the students through interactive games and challenges. Reviews of program policies continue for the first week of the program.
Q: To what extent can youth choose the activities they are participating in (including spending time alone or with other children)?
A: The students are able to choose all of their enrichment activities. The Summer Spot staff plan the first weeks’ activities in advance for students to select from, and then we include as many reasonable suggestions from the students as possible for the last four weeks. The students choose a Monday/Wednesday activity which takes place on both days. The boys have a swim trip on Thursdays and choose a Tuesday one-day activity. The girls have a swim trip on Tuesdays and choose a Thursday one-day activity. All of the students participate in Friday full day field trips.
Summer Spot staff intentionally design a menu of activities that offers a variety of content, format, teaching styles, etc. We typically include physical activities (Basketball, Soccer, Kickball), arts and crafts activities (Summer Studio, Design Lab, Express Yourself), psycho-social education groups (Boys Group, Girls Group, Stress Release), SEL activities (Team Building, Challengers, Appreciation Club) and performing arts activities (Step Team, Dancing with Summer Spot, Talent Show). Once the menu of activities is prepared, we share it with the Advisory Council for feedback and then make adjustments, when possible.
We’re not able to provide opportunities for students to spend time alone as we’re required to provide staff supervision for all students at all times. However, we do have a 1:8 staff-to-student ratio.
Q: Give an example of an activity that a student has suggested, and what the reaction was by your program’s staff.
A: Students suggested Game Show – this activity is a combination of Jeopardy-style trivia, the Kahoot online games, and Minute to Win It-style challenges. The initial request was for Kahoot as an activity and the staff worked with students to create a broader activity that included Kahoot as well as other games and challenges.
Other students suggested a dance activity in the style of Dancing with the Stars. The staff loved the idea and were able to create a plan for Dancing with Summer Spot, which became a really fun, engaging activity.
The Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention supports the healthy development of youth, especially of those working to overcome complex challenges and barriers to success. AIP’s middle school Summer Programs offer campers a well-rounded experience that balances enrichment, exploration, and excitement within an informal educational context.