Gifford Youth Achievement Center’s (GYAC) annual Walter M. Jackson Summer Camp concludes August 14. To say that this summer was different would be an understatement, but parents, staff and students adjusted to wearing face masks, daily temperature checks and no field trips.
“Yes, things were a bit different, but our passion for educating students and providing a safe learning environment is unwavering,” commented Angelia Perry, the Center’s Executive Director. GYAC’s summer camp teachers fully embraced the challenge of creating a safe and educational environment for students, so that children could recoup time lost in their classrooms due to COVID-19.
Aside from lessons in science, math, reading and language arts, campers created slime, built and flew kites, analyzed chemical reactions between soda and Mentos and started a garden revitalization project. Their afternoons were filled with games, walks along the nature trail, and recreation time in the gym.
Plans to offer an open house so parents could meet their child’s teachers and see how campers spent their time shifted to a virtual open house. Ten short videos, available at www.gyac.net, showcase GYAC’s teachers and provide an introduction to their class.
Poised to pivot due to COVID-19, GYAC put on an end of camp bash that did not disappoint. On what was scheduled to be the last week of camp, teachers manned eight stations, each with a unique activity. Campers designed tie-dye t-shirts, created bubble blowing slime and competed in a variety of outdoor games. For lunch, staff fired up the grill and students chowed down on hamburgers, hot dogs and baked beans. The grand finale arrived in the afternoon when students were treated to freshly prepared popcorn, snow cones and cotton candy!
Throughout the summer GYAC adapted as needed. From converting the Center’s bi-monthly food giveaway and back to school supply distribution to a drive-thru format to extending camp by two weeks due to the school district’s decision to shift the start of school, GYAC has remained a reliable resource for families in Indian River County. The same will be true going forward as staff prepares for the start of the after-school program, which beings on August 24.
Gifford Youth Achievement Center, a 501(c)(3), opened its doors in 1998 with the sole purpose of enhancing the academic performance of children in Indian River County. The nonprofit organization, governed by a volunteer board of directors, focuses on vulnerable students who live in the Gifford community and surrounding municipalities of Indian River County. In addition to year-round educational programs and activities for youth, GYAC provides activities for adults and seniors citizens, such as exercise classes, bible study, and computer and educational training. The Center also hosts job fairs, health clinics, community gatherings and serves as an information hub for those in need of services.