CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The non-profit, Engaging Creative Minds (ECM), is used to working with hundreds of children throughout the year in Charleston, Berkeley and Dorchester County schools. ECM also hosts a six-week Summer STEAM Institute to help prevent the “summer slide.”
The summer camp program is held in schools throughout the Lowcountry, and after learning those would be closed this summer, the decision was made to cancel all of ECM’s summer camps.
However, staff came up with another way to support students who could be at risk of falling behind.
“When COVID-19 forced kids to go online this spring we knew there would be challenges,” Executive Director Robin Berlinsky said. Her staff thought about moving to online learning but after talking with parents they came up with a different idea.
“We realized online learning might not be the best option for our campers," she said. "They have been doing it and it may not be as easy to make it fun and we pivoted again. We will be providing hands-on ‘CReATE Kits’ that are a little more old fashioned.”
Those kits will include items to help kids tackle assignments while having fun, and no technology is needed.
“The delivery will be exciting. We might hang them from trees or hide them in a scavenger hunt,” she said.
The kits will include flashlights and books to encourage reading at night, origami lessons to learn about geometry, model airplanes to learn about combining science and math and even bubbles to learn about physics.
The program will last four weeks in July, and three days a week the students will check-in with staff members to keep them accountable for the work.
“So they know if they’re doing a math challenge on Monday, that on Wednesday the ECM team will be out there with bubbles, music and energy checking in,” she added.
The goal of the check-ins is also to create relationships that will look different than in past years.
“That’s going to be our biggest challenge, is how to maintain those relationships and connect with them the way we want to,” Berlinsky added.
Right now the summer program will be able to serve 100 students throughout Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties. However, they hope to serve more students and are accepting donations to buy more kits and supplies. You can read how to do that by clicking: here.