PHOENIX - As of March 28, the portal for Arizona Governor Doug Ducey's new summer camp is open, allowing parents to search what camps and activities are available, as well as allowing them to sign up.
Here's what you should know about the Arizona OnTrack summer camp.
What are the camps aiming to do?
The camps are part of Gov. Ducey's efforts to help kids get caught up in school over the summer, in an effort to make up for the loss of in-person education throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan has already drawn thousands of students, as well as hundreds of sites to host the classes.
The camp is aimed at helping kids in critical subjects, including reading, math and civics.
"We have all hands on deck," said Gov. Ducey. "We want to eliminate learning loss. Catch our kids up."
How are Arizona students doing since the COVID-19 pandemic began?
In 2021, just 38% students passed the statewide English language arts tests, and only 31% passed the math tests.
How will the camps be run?
"One of Arizona’s most respected education leaders, Lisa Graham Keegan, will lead the AZ OnTrack Summer Camp, the initiative to overcome learning loss that occurred during the pandemic," read part of a news release from Ducey's office.
"As we get ready to think about school in the fall, this summer offers up a really good on-ramp, and I think kids will really benefit from that," said Keegan.
Schools and community organizations will host summer camp sites throughout the state. "Together, these partners will work to overcome the academic and social losses that kids faced over the last two years," the news release said.
Adding, "Most camps will start in June, but each host has flexibility for timing, programming, transportation and child care to best serve working families."
Where's the money coming from for these camps?
Gov. Ducey is using $100 million from the American Rescue Plan to fund the camps.
How many camps are available?
More than 700 campsites are available across the state.
"The camps are different lengths," said Keegan. "Some of them are two weeks, some are three weeks, some are overnight camps, and so they’re very different experiences for students, and we’re happy about that."
When will the camps start?
The camps began on June 1, with thousands of K-12 students attending sites around the state.
Some of the camps area already full. However, Jenna Fuller with the Valley of the Sun YMCA is encouraging parents to get on waiting lists, or look for openings at other campsites.
What are students and parents saying about the camps?
"If I wasn't doing this, I'd be home, in bed," said Karma Tafoya, who is attending one of the camps.
"It's just a huge relief that families were able to get this," said Dominique Track, whose five children are attending the camp. "This financial help is amazing."
Are there challenges in organizing the camps?
The biggest challenge in Gov. Ducey's initiative may lie in finding teachers to lead those classes over the summer.
"Teachers are exhausted. It's not like they don't want to," said Christina Bustos.
Officials with SOS Arizona say they support the idea, but acknowledges an enthusiasm gap for some educators.
"I think people are frustrated that those resources have been held onto for a year when we desperately needed counselors and teaching resources," said Beth Lewis. "It doesn't really add up."
Keegan has weighed in on the challenges.
"We’ve asked all of the camp operators to really emphasize a great salary for this summer, and we’ve asked that to be at least 20% above average rates," said Keegan. "We’ve had camps say ‘look, we’re proving child care for our teachers as an incentive.' There are other folks who are offering to have teachers given things for their own fall classrooms."
Schools and families who are interested can find more information at ontrack.az.gov.
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