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Jim Thorpe Rotary program helps sharpen skills

This summer, the members of the Jim Thorpe Rotary Club were thrilled to once again offer a summer recreation program for 125 elementary students from the Jim Thorpe Area School District.

This program, similar to a summer camp, provides a safe space during the day for children (grades 2 through 6) to participate in educational activities with a focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), physical fitness, health and safety, crafts, games and just plain fun.

They also enjoy presentations from the community: the local fire and police departments and the Dimmick Library.

The Jim Thorpe Rotary has been hosting the Summer Recreation Program for the community for the past 25 years, with the exception of 2020 due to COVID-19.

The Summer Recreation Program is free, runs four days a week for eight weeks at the Jim Thorpe Memorial Park. Children who sign up for the program also receive a free breakfast and lunch. The Summer Recreation Program is a great option for families from all income levels, including those who might not have the resources to afford a more expensive summer camp experience. Additionally, the hands-on work experience for college students and teachers serving as counselors allows them to develop their skills engaging with youth for their current and future careers.

Students risk losing 2-3 months of math and reading skills during the summer months. This is known as the “summer slide,” and can really affect younger students as well as low-income students, due to the lack of books, computers and family resources to afford summer programming.

A goal of the summer program is to help decrease summer learning loss. The STEAM activities the counselors provide are fun, motivational, promote careers and reinforce academic skills taught during the school year.

The strength of the Rotary Summer Program is its community support and the partners who are invested in the program. They include: Jim Thorpe Borough, Lehigh Carbon Community College and Schuylkill SHINE Program (Schools and Homes in Education), Jim Thorpe School District, Mauch Chunk Trust Company, Jim Thorpe Community Bank, Penn Forest Township, Jim Thorpe Lions Club, Brandywine Transportation, Thrivant Financial, parents and community members.

Most recently, a collaborative effort between the Carbon Schuylkill Luzerne Wayne Pike STEM Ecosystem, the Jim Thorpe Dimmick Library, Carbon/Schuylkill SHINE and the Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit resulted in children experiencing hands-on STEM activities with a focus on literacy that generated much enthusiasm with both children and parents.

One activity was on fingerprinting. “It was cool we learned about loops, whorls and arches and how each fingerprint is unique. We used cocoa powder, a mirror and tape to transfer our own print and had a magnifying glass to examine them. We made fun drawings of our own fingerprints,” said Hannah, a sixth-grader from the Jim Thorpe School District.

Over the past 25 years the Jim Thorpe Rotary Club has provided 3,750 children with a safe and motivating summer enrichment experience. The program has and will continue and evolve to meet the needs of the community.

Students learn about fingerprinting in the Summer Recreation Program hosted by the Jim Thorpe Rotary Club. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Students gather for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics activities and games in the Summer Recreation Program hosted by the Jim Thorpe Rotary Club. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO