Summer enrichment available for Clayton youths

Photo by Jeylin White
Crossroads Comprehensive Youth Development Center Founder and CEO Willie M. Simpson, and campers, show off some of the enrichment projects the children completed during camp.

Photo by Jeylin White Crossroads Comprehensive Youth Development Center Founder and CEO Willie M. Simpson, and campers, show off some of the enrichment projects the children completed during camp.

By Jeylin White


Eventhough Clayton County Schools has not offered its own summer enrichment programs for students in recent years, initiatives intended to help school-aged children retain -- and/or sharpen -- their knowledge over the summer months are still plentiful.

Some are even free. Some, gender specific. Some are faith-based. Others are offered through public and private institutions, or non-profit organizations.

The "Go The Distance" enrichment camp, offered by Crossroads Comprehensive Youth Development Center (CCYDC), a youth-services agency in Jonesboro, and the "A' Lady Academy Summer Empowerment Program," offered through Ladies of Favor Inc., a mentoring group for young women, are two examples.

The CCYDC's "Go The Distance" offering is a six-week, youth-enrichment camp for children, aged 5 to 16. Rev. Willie M. Simpson, the founder and CEO, said the camp mainly focuses on reading comprehension, writing skills, and math. "Children need to continue to learn while they are out for the summer," said Simpson.

She added that the youngsters will also focus on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests (CRCT), which students generally take about a month before the school year ends each year. The CRCTs, to a large degree, determine whether a student will advance to the next grade level, and if a school will make Adequate Year Progress (AYP), based on measurements set out by the state, and the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

"We have ordered the CRCT books, and we will be going over those books with them," said Simpson, "to ensure they get the concepts, and that they do well when the CRCT comes up again."

The camp also provides a variety of other educational and fun activities, such as field trips to the library, Zoo Atlanta, The Martin Luther King Jr., Center, and to Noah's Ark, the animal rehabilitation center. All events are free for the children, Simpson said.

"Go The Distance," she said, caters to modest-income families. In fact, Simpson said, it is her priority to provide service to disadvantaged youths, who may get overlooked by the school system.

"For the last six years, we have been working with low-income youths, but, even with minimal funds for this year, we still were able to put together some funds to provide camp to parents who can not afford to put their children in camp," she said.

Registration for "Go the Distance" is open now through the close of the camp on July 29. Although the camp is free to those who attend, said Simpson she is still in need of food donations, volunteers, and monetary donations to help provide transportation to campers, particularly on field trips.

CCYDC also offers a "Success For Life Youth Enrichment Program," for youths 14 to 18, who are seeking mentoring, tutoring, G.E.D., and life-skills services (free of charge), during the summer, she said.

Meanwhile, an enrichment camp in Jonesboro, offered through the Ladies of Favor Inc., youth-mentoring group, is aimed at young girls in middle and high schools.

Ladies of Favor CEO Gabrielle Starr, said the reason why she decided to do the "A' Lady Academy Summer Empowerment Program" is to offer options, and fun activities, to young women, so they are not sitting around this summer being "idle."

"It's important for me to give them options, and let them know there are other things you can do with your time," said Starr. Last year, when we did camp, the girls had so much fun."

Starr said the program will focus on mind-body-and-character building, along with reading and writing. "You can never put enough emphasis on reading." she said. "We're also going to focus on writing creatively through poetry and spoken word."

The cost of the camp is $50 per week, she said, but the price is negotiable for modest-income families. However, the $25 registration fee is non-refundable. Registration is open until June 10, said Starr, and the camp will end on July 29.

The following is a list of some of the programs offered in the county this summer:

* Crossroads' "Go the Distance" Camp, located at 737 Veterans Parkway Suite 600, in Jonesboro. Call (770) 756-9100.

* Ladies of Favor, Inc.'s "A' Lady Academy Summer Empowerment Program," at 122 Watterson Street, in Jonesboro. Call (404) 889-6812.

* Doorways PREP, Inc.'s youth mentoring for at-risk youths. Call Leon Stanley at (404) 720-2378, for more information.

* The Clayton County Library System's free "Summer Reading Program," open now until Aug. 6, in Jonesboro. Call Janice Arcuria at (770) 210-5238.

* The Literacy Youth Foundation 's "Young Entrepreneurs Unite" workshop, TODAY (Saturday June 4), from 10:30 a.m., to noon, at the Clayton County Headquarters Library, 865 Battle Creek Road, in Jonesboro. Call (770) 473-3850.

* Center for Continuing Education at Clayton State University's variety of classes for children, ages 7-15, throughout the summer. For ages 7 to 11, there are a half dozen summer camps, starting on June 13. Each runs one week, from Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m., to noon.

Here is a list of CSU's camps:

* Jungle Explorer, June 13-17.

* Blast-Off to Space, June 20-24.

* Comic Books -- Create Your Own, June 27-July 1.

* Mad Science! Hands-on, July 11-15.

* Wagons to the Wild West, July 18-22.

* School Year Success, July 25-29.

For young men and women, 12 to 15,

weekly classes, running from 1 to 4 p.m.

* It's Alive -- Teen Animation, June 13-17.

* Fantasy Inspired Cakes, June 20-24.

* Comic Strip -- Create Your Own, June 27-July 1.

* Create Your Own Video Game, July 11-15.

* Creative Writing Camp, July 18-22.

(this course is from 9 a.m., to noon.)

* School Year Success, July 25-29.

For more information, or to register for camps at CSU, go to www.conted.clayton.edu/ and click on Summer Youth Camps.