Benefits of a Structured Summer Camp Program

BSA summer camp children visiting the Philadelphia Insectarium and Butterfly Pavilion.

Parents often debate on what the focus should be for school age children during the summer. Some think of more relaxing and fun activities while others want to see learning continue, so there is no gap when the new school year begins. 

Although convenient in some ways, keeping children at home or with relatives in the summer may not always work out. Kids get bored easily and many are turning to electronics for stimulation and fun. Caregivers at homes may also tend to allow more electronics because it keeps kids occupied and out of trouble. However, many studies have shown that non-stop hours of daily electronics use can cause strain in young eyes, bad posture, agitation, and even anxiety in some children. 

Well, what if your child was entertained while learning throughout the summer without relying on electronics?! Great summer programs successfully combine learning activities taught in enjoyable and interesting ways to keep children excited during the program. 

Summer camp children making condominiums at 56th & Woodland.

Take for example, a recent activity at our 56th & Woodland academy in Philadelphia where school age children worked on recreating their community through the use of recyclable materials. The kids used cardboard boxes, juice and egg cartons to create condominium buildings, parks, and streets representing their community. “The children were so excited to work on this every day. You didn’t have to ask them, they just wanted to continue right where they left off the previous day. That’s the kind of experience we aim for with our summer campers!” said Academy Director Veronica Godbolt.

It is learning experiences like this one which can make a world of difference for children in summer camps. But, it’s not just about the learning. There are more benefits to structured summer programs. Things like:

  • Establishing long lasting friendships
  • Developing a sense of trust through a daily routine
  • Becoming a life-long learner
  • Participating in field trips to exciting venues
  • Allowing for new experiences
  • Receiving nutritious meals
  • Staying cool on hot summer days (air conditioned facilities)

We are in the middle of summer and there are more weeks left of fun, learning activities for school age kids at Brightside Academy. Call us today at 877-868-2273 for engaging experiences at one of our 24 Philadelphia or 9 Pittsburgh locations! We’ll also gladly help your family in the process of applying for subsidized rates through CCIS if you qualify. 

Your child is waiting for a great summer, get started now!

How to Talk to Kids About Tragic Events

On October 27, the City of Pittsburgh was struck with a senseless tragedy within the close-knit neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, which is also home to our Hazelwood center. Eleven neighbors perished as a result of the attack at the Tree of Life Synagogue, leaving us with broken hearts. 

Incidents like this one are difficult to process as adults. For children, it can be even more daunting as they witness the strong adults in their lives struggling with feelings of sadness, confusion, depression, and anger to name a few. 

In light of our concern for children’s welfare during tragic events, we have researched ways to talk to kids about tragedy. An article from, stood out. Below we share some of the tips offered in the article first published in response to the Squirrel Hill event.


Advice from Dr. G on how to talk to your kids about the mass shooting in Pittsburgh by Tracy Certo, Publisher of NextPittsburgh (10.28.2018)

  • The first step is to process your own emotions and experience away from your kids if you can.
  • It’s best with younger children to avoid letting them see disturbing images of the shooting which can stick in their minds.
  • If you are confident that they are not going to hear about it somewhere else, and your child is 8 or younger, Dr. G advises not bringing it up as they will struggle to understand.
  • If they are going to hear about it:
    • For children 7 and under, it may be best to start with one small piece of information: “Some people died this weekend in Pittsburgh.” As they ask you follow-up questions, keep your answers brief and age-appropriate. It’s also very useful to ask your child what they know about the topic – what they’ve heard and what they think they know. Once you’ve discussed that, and they’ve stopped asking questions, she says, then you stop talking. 
      • It is important to answer all the questions that they ask. And give a value to the situation as you discuss it: “It’s sad,” or “We’re thinking about those families.”
    • For older kids, find out what they know and ask them how they feel about it. Get their opinions and give them yours. This is a chance to reinforce your values.
      • Validate their feelings. And be sure to check back in within a few hours and again in a day.
  • Even as you are discussing something as painful as this subject, you can focus on the positive: Who are the heroes of the story? Take Mr. Rogers’ advice and “look for the helpers.”
  • Choose action. Doing something makes us all feel better. Attend a vigil, donate to the synagogue, get together with friends to discuss.
  • And if your child is having a hard time over the coming days and weeks, keep validating their feelings and spend time doing good with them.”


How do you handle talking about tragic events with your children? Let us know at