Summer Programs Have Transformative Impact on Youth Development

Families outdoor walking in grass

Summer has arrived and kids across Frederick County are celebrating a deserved break. While long, lazy days of doing nothing are often part of the mix, summer also presents an opportunity to foster intellectual growth, personal development and social connection. Many kids experience a vibrant mosaic of learning, exploration and self-discovery in their summer programs and camps.

As an organization committed to supporting families with children, The Community Foundation of Frederick County embraces opportunities to partner with local programs that remove barriers and ensure access to enriching activities for all children.

City Youth Matrix, a nonprofit founded by teacher Aaron Vetter in 2018, helps families with limited resources access all types of extracurricular activities that empower young minds and nurture children’s potential.  Through an array of supports and services, the organization works to eliminate financial, transportation and cultural barriers to activities and programs.

According to Vetter, 40% of Frederick County’s youth do not experience ongoing extracurricular activities between the ages of 4-18. Studies have shown that extracurricular activities provide countless benefits including reducing stress, improving mood and providing a sense of fulfillment, in addition to supporting social, emotional, cognitive and academic development.

“Often times, a student’s academic progress can take a dip during the summer months,” Vetter said. “Through City Youth Matrix connected extracurriculars and summer camps, students are able to maintain their academic progress and correlating self-esteem to better prepare them to enter their next academic grade.”

The Community Foundation has provided numerous grants to City Youth Matrix over the last several years to support its Family Empowerment and Education programs.

“Our mission does not survive without direct local community support,” Vetter said. “We just celebrated our five-year anniversary, and the Community Foundation has been a staunch supporter from our genesis.”

YMCA is another organization that is steadfast in its commitment to impacting young lives. Tom Clingman, Vice President of Social Responsibility at YMCA of Frederick County, explains that the summer months can be tough for youths as they are at risk of learning loss and may spend hours indoors staring at electronic devices.  He said their summer camps provide a connection to nature and time for play, socialization and intellectual engagement.

“Our day camps help children discover who they are and imagine who they can be, with programs that foster lifelong skills, build self-confidence, and create lasting friendships,” Clingman said.

Clingman said that Community Foundation grants help make the YMCA programs accessible to all by covering or reducing program expenses and by providing financial assistance to families in need.

“Grants support scholarships that reduce or fully cover program costs for those who qualify,” Clingman said. “The YMCA’s goal is that no one is turned away for the inability to pay.”

Frederick County is fortunate to have not only a diverse array of interesting and unique summer program offerings, but also that there are generous donors who have built a legacy around making sure children have access to those programs. The Community Foundation is proud to have partnered with many generous donors over the years who have created funds that support local youth programs and initiatives.

It’s exciting to play a role in building an environment in which children are provided the opportunity to attend important extracurricular activities over the summer where they experience the transformative power of learning, growth and self-discovery.

*Published in The Frederick News-Post on 7/4/2023.