The Junior League of Tyler started an annual local program thirteen years ago called Summer Reading Camp. Summer Reading is a free, week-long camp for students entering the third grade that have been identified by their teachers as needing extra encouragement in reading. Summer Reading Camp provides an opportunity for low income children to have a positive educational experience in a fun, non-threatening, camp-like setting during the summer break.
During the camp, children learn how fun reading can be and they are inspired to use their imagination to enjoy books. Each day of camp includes a featured "book of the day" that is read to the children by a special guest such as the mayor, police chief or a local television personality. Related hands-on activities engage the children and bring out their creativity. Campers are each given their own copy of the featured book and they rotate to centers such as drama, listening, art, special activities, writing and the book store.
The goal for every Summer Reading Camp is to build up each camper's self-esteem and confidence in all aspects of reading. After camp is over, each camper is sent home with a personal library of new books. Campers are given a minimum of 16 new books, a t-shirt, and a book bag or backpack. In addition, they can earn "bucks" with their participation throughout the camp that can be used to purchase more books, book marks, and other book-related trinkets in the camp bookstore.
Over the past 13 years, the Junior League of Tyler has invested nearly $170,000 and thousands of volunteer hours in this program. Approximately 30 Junior League volunteers dedicate themselves to this project each summer to create a magical camp experience for approximately 140 children.