Free summer camps coming to 24:1

Beginning in June, kids in the 24:1 will have a chance to travel “All Around the World” this summer during exciting summer camps focused on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) and character development. Through a partnership with The Legacy Center (TLC), funded member of the Community Impact Network and Unleashing Potential, camps will be offered at no cost to families and will be held at  TLC , located at 6850 Normandale Drive, St. Louis, MO 63121. 

Research has shown that some children in the St. Louis region have better access to summer camp than others. However, historically, many children in the 24:1 footprint have been unable to attend summer camp due to lack of programming and financial barriers.

Local organizations, including multiple Community Impact Network members, are working to close that gap and help more children experience summer camps. At the Network’s Service Meeting on April 13, representatives  from organizations laid out their plans and inspirations for summer camp in the 24:1.

Blueprint4, a St. Louis nonprofit focused on helping more children get into summer educational programming, has done extensive research into summer camp access in the region. Blueprint4 Program Manager, Zasmine Johnson (pictured above) spoke at the meeting about how the 24:1 is a summer camp desert, meaning there are almost no opportunities for children in the area to access summer camps.

Dr. Terry Harris, Executive Director of The Legacy Center, who has experience in education for over 15 years,  says children in the 24:1 and nearby City of Clayton should have the same access to summer programming.

“I promise you, there is no difference between the kids in 63121 and the kids in 63105,” Harris said, referring to the ZIP codes of the 24:1 area and Clayton. “There’s no difference.”

Johnson and Harris agreed that the best way to engage children in educational settings is to find ways to make learning fun. The summer provides a golden opportunity for this, as students can get outdoors and learn outside the classroom.

“We know that school is important, but the summertime is also a great time to enhance learning, to provide support, and it provides kids with opportunities to do a lot of activities like shooting off rockets,” Johnson said. “You don’t get to do that every day at school.” 

Harris (pictured below giving a tour of The Legacy Center) recalled a time in his childhood when his class was going on a field trip that cost $5. To not burden his mother, he did not mention the camp because he knew it would be difficult for his family to afford and he did not want to put his mother in a tough spot. He wants fewer children to be put in that situation and hopes The Legacy Center will help fill the void.

“We want to create programs where we are not putting any kid in a situation where they don’t participate because of an embarrassment of not having,” Harris said. “Do these kids have dreams of just playing, of laughing, of being? We all know the answer is yes. The Legacy Center is a space to allow for those kids to just be.”

Two days after the Network’s Service Meeting, The Legacy Center and Blueprint4 hosted an open house at The Legacy Center to introduce local families to helpful organizations and summer programming. More than 100 people showed up and enjoyed face painting, games, giveaways, free food and more.

The event promoted summer programming. Learn more about Unleashing Potential's summer camps here and explore more summer opportunities through Blueprint4 here.