As the Columbia School District prepares to launch its Summer Adventure program Monday, area summer youth programs are addressing enrollment concerns, caused in part by the record number of district summer school participants.
The all-day, tuition-free district program has contributed to decreased enrollment for youth programs at the Activity and Recreation Center. Steve Evers, recreation specialist, said the center expected such a decline.
“We have adjusted staffing and program schedules accordingly,” Evers said. “We’ll be able to offer a few more field trips and that type of thing due to the smaller numbers. So we think that for the kids who do enroll, we’re going to offer an even better experience.”
Country Day School, which has operated a summer youth education program for 20 years, has been minimally affected in terms of enrollment. However, director Tony Davis said concerns about the district’s program still exist.
Davis said area summer youth programs received no prior notification from the district about the scope of the program and were unable to plan for possible enrollment and scheduling issues.
“Programs working for the benefit of the community, many of which have been around for many years, were blindsided,” he said.
Camp Mudd, an outdoor summer day camp sponsored by the University YMCA, expects about half the usual summer enrollment as a result of the new district summer school program, said director Julie Alexander. Easter Seals’ summer program started preparations early to deal with decreased enrollment. The camp directors sent out parent surveys to see how many children would attend summer school.
Due to the survey results, the program, which started last week, is taking a break for five weeks effective Monday. “We’ll start again once summer school gets out,” said Shantell Miller, administrative assistant for the Easter Seals program.
The Columbia Police Department has not seen an impact on the number of participants at its summer camp. The department holds a Summer Youth Camp dealing with public service careers in the city.
“Enrollment has increased significantly,” said Sgt. Dianne Bernhard, director of the program. “We normally only allow 15, but this year we upped it to 22 and are still turning people away.”
Still, she said that next year they will try to schedule around summer school.