SHAPING SUMMERTIME EXPERIENCES
Opportunities to Promote
Healthy Development and Well-Being
for Children and Youth
Committee on Summertime Experiences and Child
and Adolescent Education, Health, and Safety
Martín-José Sepúlveda and Rebekah Hutton, Editors
Board on Children, Youth, and Families
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
A Consensus Study Report of
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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This activity was supported by a contract awarded to the National Academy of Sciences and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (1003812) and the Wallace Foundation (10003942). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-49657-5
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-49657-8
Digital Object Identifier: https://doi.org/10.17226/25546
Library of Congress Control Number: 2019954832
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Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2019). Shaping Summertime Experiences: Opportunities to Promote Healthy Development and Well-Being for Children and Youth. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/25546.
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COMMITTEE ON SUMMERTIME EXPERIENCES AND CHILD AND ADOLESCENT EDUCATION, HEALTH, AND SAFETY
MARTÍN-JOSÉ SEPÚLVEDA (Chair), IBM Corporation (retired)
KARL ALEXANDER, Johns Hopkins University (emeritus)
NISHA BOTCHWEY, Georgia Institute of Technology
NANCY L. DEUTSCH, University of Virginia
JOSHUA DOHAN, Youth Advocacy Division, State of Massachusetts
BARRY A. GARST, Clemson University
SANDRA HASSINK, American Academy of Pediatrics Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight
PAMELA HYMEL, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
JENNIFER MCCOMBS, RAND Corporation
BARBARA MEDINA, Center for Urban Education, University of Northern Colorado
DEBORAH MORONEY, American Institutes for Research
CHRIS SMITH, Boston After School & Beyond
RACHEL L.J. THORNTON, Johns Hopkins University
REBEKAH HUTTON, Study Director
PRIYANKA NALAMADA, Associate Program Officer
STACEY SMIT, Senior Program Assistant
LORENA GARCIA, Archer Fellow (May–August 2018)
CYPRESS LYNX, Intern (August 2018–April 2019)
BOARD ON CHILDREN, YOUTH, AND FAMILIES
ANGELA DIAZ (Chair), Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
HAROLYN BELCHER, Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
W. THOMAS BOYCE, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
DAVID V. B. BRITT, Sesame Workshop (retired)
RICHARD F. CATALANO, University of Washington School of Social Work
DIMITRI CHRISTAKIS, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, University of Washington
JEFFREY W. HUTCHINSON, The Wade Alliance, LLC
STEPHANIE J. MOROE, The Wrenwood Group, LLC
JAMES M. PERRIN, Harvard Medical School and Mass General Hospital for Children
NISHA SACHDEV, Bainum Family Foundation
DONALD SCHWARZ, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
MARTÍN-JOSÉ SEPÚLVEDA, IBM Corporation (retired)
MARTIN H. TEICHER, Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital
JONATHAN TODRES, Georgia State University College of Law
NATACHA BLAIN, Director
PAMELLA ATAYI, Program Coordinator
This report would not have been possible without the contributions of many people. Special thanks go to the members of the committee who dedicated extensive time, expertise, and energy to the drafting of the report. The committee also thanks the members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine staff: Rebekah Hutton and Priyanka Nalamada for their significant contributions to the report, Stacey Smit for providing key administrative and logistical support, which ensured that committee meetings ran smoothly, and Cypress Lynx and Lorena Garcia for providing valuable research support to the committee.
The committee is also grateful to Anthony Bryant, Faye Hillman, and Lisa Alston for their administrative and financial assistance. From the Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education Office of Reports and Communication, Kirsten Sampson Snyder, Viola Horek, Patricia L. Morison, Douglas Sprunger, and Yvonne Wise guided the report through the review and production process and assisted with its communication and dissemination. The committee also thanks the National Academies Press staff, Clair Woolley and Holly Sten, for their assistance with the production of the final report; Daniel Bearss and Rebecca Morgan in the National Academies’ research library for their assistance with fact checking and literature searches; Genie Grohman for her editing of early drafts of the report; and the report’s copyeditor, Marc DeFrancis, for his expert editing. Finally, throughout the project, Natacha Blain, director of the Board on Children, Youth, and Families, along with Mary Ellen O’Connell and Monica Feit, provided helpful oversight.
Many individuals volunteered significant time and effort to address and educate the committee during our public information session. Their perspectives and personal experiences were essential to the committee’s work. We thank Steve Baskin, Camp Champions; Kim Fortunato, Campbell Soup Foundation; Maeghan Gilmore, National Association of Counties; Nathalie Hawkins, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts; Woodie Hughes, Jr., Fort Valley State University; Jocelyn Richgels, Rural Policy Research Institute; Juli Shaw, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts; and Lauren Tingey, Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health.
Many individuals and organizations assisted the committee’s information-gathering efforts and provided valuable insights and context for the committee’s work by providing written memos or presentations for the committee’s consideration. We thank the following individuals: Michael W. Beets, Policy to Practice in Youth Programs; Carla Benway, Youth Advocate Programs, Inc.; Juliette Berg, American Institutes for Research; Michelle Dennison, Oklahoma City Indian Clinic; Linda Ebner Erceg, Association of Camp Nurses; Shaena Fazal, Youth Advocate Programs, Inc.; Miriam Heyman, Ruderman Family Foundation; Max Margolius, Boston University; Alicia Sasser Modestino, Northeastern University; Justin B. Moore, Policy to Practice in Youth Programs; Cynthia Perry, Oregon Health and Science University; Anna Skubel, Boston University; Christopher A. Thurber, Phillips Exeter Academy; Paul von Hippel, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin; R. Glenn Weaver, Policy to Practice in Youth Programs; Stuart T. Weinberg, Vanderbilt University; Nikki Yamashiro, Afterschool Alliance; Jonathan F. Zaff, Boston University; and the following organizations: Bethel Youth Facility; the Commonwealth Corporation; and Family Voices, Inc.
The committee would also like to thank the following individuals and organizations for providing access to critical data regarding the summertime camp experiences of children and youth: Laurie Brown and Grechen Throop, American Camp Association; Shay Dawson, Central Michigan University; and Ann Gillard, SeriousFun Children’s Network.
The committee appreciates the contributions of Vidhya Ananthakrishnan, Columbia University; Amanda Geller, New York University; Nikki Jones, University of California, Berkeley; Theresa Melton, University of Virginia; Scott Pulizzi, American Institutes for Research; and Jocelyn Widmer, Texas A&M, for their valuable commissioned papers, which informed our report.
This Consensus Study Report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the National Academies in making each published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets the institutional standards for quality, objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the
integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Tina L. Cheng, Department of Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Andrew J. Cherlin, Department of Sociology, Johns Hopkins University; Jacqueline Jones, President/CEO, Foundation for Child Development; Ruth Perou, National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; James F. Sallis, Family Medicine and Public Health (emeritus), University of California, San Diego; Jim Sibthorp, Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism, University of Utah; Melissa Threadgill, Juvenile Justice Initiatives, Massachusetts Office of the Child Advocate; and Paul von Hippel, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin.
Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations of this report, nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by David V. Britt, President and CEO, Sesame Workshop (retired) and Catherine E. Woteki, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Iowa State University. They were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with the standards of the National Academies and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content rests entirely with the authoring committee and the National Academies.
Martín-José Sepúlveda, Chair
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The Study Charge and the Committee’s Approach
Structured Versus Unstructured Summertime Experiences
Common Summertime Experiences of Children and Youth
Summertime Experiences Provided by Key Agents
3 THE EFFECTS OF SUMMERTIME EXPERIENCES ON CHILDREN’S DEVELOPMENT
Developmental Needs of Children and Youth
Developmental Stages of School-Age Children and Youth
4 HOW DO SUMMER PROGRAMS INFLUENCE OUTCOMES FOR CHILDREN AND YOUTH?
Classification of Program Effectiveness Evidence
Evidence for the Effectiveness of Summer Programs
5 THE EFFECTS OF CHILDREN’S CIRCUMSTANCES ON SUMMERTIME EXPERIENCES
Where Children and Families Live
How Do Community and Family Contexts Affect the Summertime Experiences of Children and Youth?
6 FUTURE DIRECTIONS FOR POLICY, PRACTICE, AND RESEARCH
Overall Conclusions for Policy, Practice, and Research
B Characteristics of American Camp Association Accredited Day and Overnight Camps in 2016
C Agenda for Public Information Gathering Session
D Authors of Memos Submitted to the Committee
Boxes, Figures, and Tables
2-2 Youth Programs and Services Provided by Specialty Camps
2-3 One Summer Chicago Initiative
2-4 Leveraging Culture, Community, and Family to Promote Positive Outcomes for Youth in Treatment and Detention in Alaska
2-5 Examples of STEM-Centered Summertime Experiences from the Private Sector
2-6 The Story of a Citywide Intermediary
2-7 National Intermediaries and Intermediary Coalitions
3-2 Features of Positive Developmental Settings
3-3 Addressing Food Insecurity in the Summer: USDA Programs
4-1 Key Findings from the Program Effectiveness Literature
4-2 International Lessons for Summer Programming in the United States
5-3 Children and Youth Involved with the Juvenile Justice or Child Welfare Systems
5-4 Children and Youth Who Are Gender Nonconforming and Children and Youth Who Are LGBTQ
5-5 Rural Settings and Summertime
5-6 Children and Youth Who Are American Indian or Alaska Native
1-1 A systems view of summertime
2-1 Percentage distribution of summer camp providers, by agent
2-2-1 Percentage of ACA camps serving youth with disabilities based on type of disability/need
2-2 Percentage distribution of children served by day camps (left) and overnight camps (right), by economic level
2-3 Out-of-school time program offerings sponsored by parks and recreation departments (% of departments sponsoring)
2-4 Age distribution of parks and recreation out-of-school time program participants
2-5 Race/ethnicity distribution of parks and recreation out-of-school time program participants
3-1 Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
5-1 Percentage change in population, by age group and county type, since 2000
5-2 Child poverty rates are persistently highest in rural counties and in the South
5-3 Children living in areas of concentrated poverty, by race and ethnicity, in the United States, 2013–2017
2-1 Common Types of Summertime Experiences Reported for Children, Ages 5–6
2-2 Data on Summertime Programming from the Afterschool Alliance’s (2014) America After 3PM, by Community Type
4-1 Safety: Research Evidence for Summer Program Effectiveness
4-2 Physical and Mental Health: Evidence for Summer Program Effectiveness
4-3 Social and Emotional Development: Evidence for Summer Program Effectiveness
4-4 Academic Learning: Evidence for Program Effectiveness
5-1 Population (in millions) Living in Urban, Suburban, and Rural Communities and Changes in Community Sizes, 2000 to 2012–2016
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For children and youth in grades K–12 in the United States, “summertime” is the period between successive academic calendar years that typically occupies the majority of the months of June through August. It is an important time period for all community members, since the summertime experiences of children (grades K–5) and youth or adolescents (grades 5–12) have both direct and indirect effects on others in their roles as parents, siblings, caretakers, providers of goods and services, or community residents. This yearly interval presents opportunities and challenges for children and youth as well as for the agents (e.g., parents, teachers, summer counselors and program directors, police) and sectors (e.g., government, commercial, nonprofit) that design, develop, deliver, or fund components of summertime experiences.
Environments, exposures, activities, and interactions during summertime can promote positive cognitive, social, emotional, and skills development, as well as promoting safety and physical and mental health, for children and youth. However, summertime experiences are not evenly and equitably distributed, and many children and youth lack access to quality experiences due to the challenges of availability, accessibility, and affordability. The most vulnerable children—those in households or neighborhoods at a lower socioeconomic level, from ethnic, racial, or immigrant minorities, with special needs or disabilities, from rural neighborhoods, who are LGBTQ+, or who are affected by the juvenile or adult criminal justice or child welfare systems—face the greatest challenges in accessing quality summertime experiences.
Meeting the needs of children and youth through summertime experiences that promote positive outcomes in education, health, safety, and well-being requires an understanding of how summertime affects these outcomes and of the types, quality, and distribution of as well as participation in summertime activities at the national, regional, and local levels. Identifying, collecting, and assessing the existing data, and using those data as a lens to describe the current state of and opportunities for improvement in summertime activities, formed the basis of this committee’s work. These aims were applied to four areas of well-being: (1) academic learning; (2) social and emotional development; (3) physical and mental health and behaviors; and (4) safety, risk-taking, and anti- and pro-social behavior.
The central aim of this report is to provide a path forward that is actionable for policy makers, funders, sectors, and agents involved in the environments and experiences of children and youth in summertime to improve the quality, effectiveness, and equity of their efforts. As parents, family members, policy makers, funders, and service providers, our communities benefit from improved developmental, safety, and health experiences for our K–12 children and youth during the summer months.
We begin our report with a Prologue vignette. It is intended to place our call for action and investments for greater equity in positive summertime experiences for children and youth into the broader context of the distinct cultures, histories, and assets they possess as members of families and communities. Interventions that may result from our recommendations should leverage these capacities in their design and implementation.
Martín-José Sepúlveda, Chair
Committee on Summertime Experiences and Child and Adolescent Education, Health, and Safety
As we deliberate about those experiences that support children, I think of the summers I hoed sugar beets with my family on our farm. How my mother would stretch across her three rows to hoe on mine and catch my 6-year-old-self up. Some would say that my summer experiences were deficits. There were no youth activities or summer school. I learned to dog-paddle in the canals and irrigation ditches surrounding our farm. I learned to drive in the beet truck, from one end of the field to another.
We often speak in deficits, of childhood traumas or opportunities unavailable to children. I am the evidence that my parents, my heritage, and my rural country schooling were assets.
—Barbara Medina, Committee Member
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