For more than 20 years, the Early Childhood Center at Trinity Lutheran in Clinton Township has been offering school-age summer programs. The program has adapted to the needs of parents over the years, but the structure has mostly remained the same. This year, the summer program is getting an overhaul, but the focus remains the same—teaching kids and families about Jesus.
Motivation for the Change
“The biggest motivator in revamping the Trinity summer experience was making it available to more people in the surrounding community,” said Jeremy Ashley, Trinity’s Minister for Families with Young Children. To do that, Trinity looked at the target audience and also the obstacles—and for many parents that was cost. “We know there are parents out there that want their kids to be engaged in something in the summer and others who truly need full-day care—but it’s all expensive.
After much discussion, Trinity set the cost at $100 per week.
“We started with that number and began rebuilding the program to see if we could make it work. We are a non-profit, so we’re not in it to make money, which helps. We also looked at the big picture view. If we have a lower price, but higher volume, we can sustain it,” said Ashley.
The program will be capped at approximately 100 kids for the first year, but Ashley said the Early Childhood Center leaders hope to grow the program in the future.
“It certainly helps to be part of a ministry that is unified and is joined together on one mission—to make fully devoted followers of Jesus. The support, flexibility and sharing resources allows us to do more than we could do alone,” said Ashley.
The children will take part in activities centered around a new theme each week, including topics like Christmas in July, Survivor Week, and Fiesta Week. At the center of them all is Jesus.
Involving Older Kids
In previous years, the summer program included children in kindergarten through middle school age by dividing them into age groups and offering various activities, but Trinity wanted to add an element that involved the older children in a more useful way.
“As we looked back at past summers we saw that, once kids go to about sixth grade, they came somewhat reluctantly. They had fun, but didn’t really want to be here. They are just too ‘cool’ to come to summer care when they are that old,” said Ashley. Through the summer camp refresh, children 13 years and older are given a leadership role instead of just being a participant. They will be Counselors in Training and, in exchange for their assistance, they attend the summer program at no cost.
“They still get to be engaged in activities, are still supervised during the day, but with the added benefit of being a role model for the younger campers,” Ashley said.
The changes to the summer camp program only impact the school-aged summer care, not the infant or toddler programs. “We are constantly evaluating our program and try to be priced competitively while still maintaining a program and culture we feel is the best around. Who knows what the future holds, though?” said Ashley.
For more information about Trinity’s summer camp program, visit www.trinityct.org/summercamp.
Photo (c) Christopher Futcher/iStock