By: Gideon Abadilla, Clinician

Pathways SBYSP recently hosted its annual summer program for Carteret High School (CHS) students.  The summer program is jam-packed with fun and engaging activities that promote social and emotional learning, develop team building and leadership skills, and create connections among incoming freshmen, current students, and Pathways staff. This session was particularly special because Pathways was able to serve more students than the past two summers and with a longer program schedule. For reference, the 2020 summer program was completely virtual and 27 students met online for two hours, twice a week, for four weeks. This summer, 36 students met at CHS for three and a half hours, three days a week, for four weeks. 

A focus of the Pathways Summer Program is helping incoming freshmen become more comfortable and confident with their transition into high school, increasing the likelihood of success. In addition to funding from the Department of Children and Families for School-Based Youth Services, Middlesex County Commissioner Support Grants provided funding for the 2022 Pathways Summer Program.

Some activities in the summer program challenged the students’ creativity! During week one, students were put into teams and had to build the tallest tower using only straws and masking tape. Among all the groups, the team and tower pictured above came out on top.

Many of the games had the students on their feet and moving. In the last week of camp, four teams competed against each other in a full day of relay race games. Some of the games include a cup stacking race, a spoon and ball race, and a three-legged race.

Pathways promotes social and emotional learning all year round, and the summer is no exception. The program held two guided yoga sessions, which combined fitness with practicing mindfulness.

Every Wednesday during the summer program, Pathways took the students on a recreational trip. This year, students were able to enjoy a couple of hours at Top Golf in Edison, NJ. The students also played bowling, went roller skating, and watched a movie on the other trip days.

The 2022 Pathways Summer Program was a success and students and parents overall expressed positive feelings toward the program! Some statistics and feedback from the parent and student surveys are shared below.

 Parent Survey Statistics:

  • 95% of parents of eligible students (i.e., those who are not graduating seniors) indicated they would definitely register their child to attend again next year, with only one parent reporting they would maybe register their child again.
  • All parents who responded to the survey indicated they felt their child’s experience in the program was either excellent or good. More specifically, 81% of parents who responded to the survey rated the program as excellent.
  • When given the opportunity to comment on an open-ended question about the ways in which the Summer Program benefited their child, 71% of parents expressed that they saw an improvement in their child’s self-esteem and social skills. The remaining 29% of parents who responded to the survey reported noticing other benefits, including that their child felt happier and had a more positive attitude after participating in the Summer Program.

 Student Survey Statistics:

  • 93% of incoming freshmen reported that they believe the Summer Program helped them feel more confident and ready to enter high school in September.
  • 97% of students rated the Summer Program activities as being either excellent, very good, or good. 88% of students reported that their overall experience participating in the Summer Program was either excellent or very good, while the remaining 12% indicated that their experience was good.
  •  89% of students who will be returning to CHS next year (i.e., those who are not graduating seniors) indicated they would attend the Summer Program again next year.

Student Testimonials:

  • “Pathways made me feel better about the upcoming year because I made new friends outside of my friend group.”
  • “I’m a shy person so I have a hard time interacting with people, but this camp helped me.”
  • “I’m grateful for how inclusive and nice all the counselors and people were.”
  • “Camp shows you where classes are and camp makes you get confident when talking to people.”

For more highlights from the 2022 Pathways Summer Camp, please visit our Instagram page @pathwayssbys.

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