Foundations collaborate to bring literacy
COVID-19 may have hindered in-person summer camps for several organizations, but Marietta College’s STREAM Camp, with the help of Marietta Community Foundation and Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, has adapted to still provide local children with an educational experience… even from a distance.
For years, children have been welcomed to the College’s campus for a fun-filled week of learning and education for their STREAM Camp, formerly known as the Marietta College Summer Reading Camp, but with COVID-19 regulations the College’s Education Department did not feel it was wise to host the camp this year.
“Much of what we had planned to do during the camp involved interactive, hands-on learning with literacy, mathematics, the sciences, and art and movement,” said Dr. Dottie Erb. “We felt that it would be difficult to accomplish our goals while maintaining social distancing guidelines between children and staff members.”
Although the camp was canceled, the need for engaging, educational material was still in high-demand, so an alternative plan was formed by the camp’s directors. Instead of the traditional face-to-face learning, Marietta College professors created a curriculum to be dispersed to children through a “Reading Adventure Pack Program.”
The curriculum includes a canvas bag filled with four to five age-appropriate fiction and non-fiction books. Also included are materials and ideas for creative expression, literacy, play, and movement activities.
“Our goal is to develop engaging activities that will allow each child to develop grade-level literacy skills, creative expression, and opportunities for guided outdoor play and movement,” said Dr. Erb.
With support from their Board of Directors, MCF granted $10,000 be redistributed for this alternative plan.
“Although we have focused our attention on meeting the physical needs of members in the Washington County Community,” said Marcy Wesel, Chair of MCF’s Allocations Committee. “We don’t want to neglect the other needs that help drive our community’s success. Needs such as education and youth engagement are still a priority to the Foundation, and this program is an excellent way to meet those needs!”
Additional support for the project was provided by the PACF’s Esbenshade Advised Fund, which focuses on supporting reading programs in the region. “No one funder can address all the needs, so when we partner, we can extend our reach further,” said Marian Clowes, PACF Associate Director for Community Leadership. “On this project, the Marietta Community Foundation connected us to a local program addressing access to books and reading materials for school children this summer, and we were pleased that additional funds helped to expand the program’s reach to more students. That is a win-win for everyone!”
Originally, the College anticipated serving only 80 children through the program, but thanks to the support from MCF and PACF they can now serve between 220-230 local children. A number well beyond what the College had anticipated.
“It is our hope that the reading packs will inspire children to continue to read, explore, and create during the summer in order to be better prepared for their eventual return to the classroom,” said Dr. Erb. “Marietta College is grateful to the Marietta Community Foundation, the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, and all their donors for making this project a reality and for making this positive difference in the lives of area children.”