Luke Reynolds, Harrison Site Coordinator

As the weather gets warmer I am reminded that summer is on the way and with it, Kids on Course University.  KCU marks the beginning of arguably my favorite part of the Kids on Course calendar and I’ve narrowed down why this is to a few reasons.

The first reason is the relationships that are built over the course of camp and I mean that among all parties involved. From a personal standpoint I get to focus on the 50 kids who attend KCU from Harrison, I get to see them everyday for multiple hours at a time. This is a stark difference from the 300+ kids I see during the school day working at Harrison. The kids I see at camp are among the ones whom I know best and I think they benefit from having an adult at school who cares about them and knows them. For the teachers that work at camp I think it is hugely beneficial because often times they end up teaching kids at camp who they will have as future students. This rapport they build translates to more confidence for students during the year. Finally, students get a chance to meet students from other schools which allows kids to expand their horizons socially and make friends who they might meet back up with in middle school. One of the questions I get a lot about summer camp from kids is “Is (student from Van Buren/Grant) coming to camp again this year.” The relationships that are built during such a short time are fascinating to me and a definite benefit of KCU.

Students at the Cleveland KCU site enjoyed an inflatable water slide during their enrichment time last summer 2016.

The second reason I like KCU is that it demonstrably works and results in more positive academic outcomes for students who regularly attend. 89% of the students who attended last summer improved their reading outcomes, and one in five is now on grade level I reading! You can dig into more of our results are listed on our website and can be accessed by hitting the results tab. I attribute this success to small class sizes; they’re in groups of 10-15 students. Certified, licensed teachers lead each classroom. Many of these teachers work at the same schools where these kids attend during the school year, so there are already strong relationships. Right off the bat these kids get an awesome amount of attention. The day is broken down into three subjects, math, reading, and writing. These are the building blocks to all other types of learning and students get 50 minutes of lessons in these subject areas every day. Each lesson is either designed to eliminate a demonstrated skills deficit within the class or in some cases pre-teach concepts they will learn in the upcoming school year. It can be more personalized due to the smaller group size, paced as fast or as slow as is needed, and teachers are given the flexibility to teach what they feel their group needs. It’s cool to watch and it’s shocking how much kids learn over the course of the summer, when paired with all the great instruction they receive during the school year.

“89% of the students who attended last summer improved their reading outcomes, and one in five is now on grade level I reading! ”

The last reason I love summer camp it is safe and it is fun, which seems really basic. We offer two meals a day, have 20+ adults who are all trained and love kids, and are housed in district elementary schools. It’s reassuring to know 600+ kids from all over Cedar Rapids had a safe place to go much of the summer. From a fun perspective kids at the Harrison site spent over an hour outdoors everyday, playing soccer, capture the flag, zombie tag and participating in a field day featuring literally the largest slip and slide I have ever seen. Kids got to go to Kernels stadium and see everything that players see on a daily basis, go to the Raptor Center to see crazy cool birds of prey, and also got a chance to see creepy crawlers from the Iowa State Bug Zoo (not my thing, but 1st graders are braver than I am). This is just a small fraction of what happened at Harrison and I heard of things that made me jealous at other sites (like cosmic bowling and a moon jump).

Students at the KCU Harrison Site practice math skills in fun and hands-on ways during the summer.

If your kid was invited to go and you are sending them this summer, great, I’ll see you there! If you are on the fence I hope you strongly consider sending your student, it’s a great time and can be truly transformative.