Hi-Becca Wolinsky here. I'm here to start a summer long conversation about BRYTE Summer Camp 2012. This summer, BRYTE, Brown Refugee Youth Tutoring and Enrichment, will launch its second summer camp.
Brown Refugee Youth Tutoring and Enrichment (BRYTE) is a student-led organization that runs in collaboration with the International Institute of Rhode Island and the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University. Through BRYTE, Brown students tutor and mentor students in refugee families that have recently relocated to Providence. BRYTE families come from Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, Eritrea, Liberia, Iraq, Nepal, Burma, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Bhutan, Equatorial Guinea, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. BRYTE provides a unique lens onto the city and the many populations who call it home, while helping students to build connections with Providence residents by sharing knowledge, skills, and cultural practices.
Last year was the first summer of BRYTE camp. It was held at St. Michael's church, was from 9 am-12 pm, and had about 30 kids. This summer, Jesse Mcgleughlin and I, both members of the Brown class of 2014, will be coordinating summer camp. Jesse is a BRYTE coordinator and tutor during the year, and I have had much experience in refugee tutoring in and out of BRYTE throughout my time at and before Brown.
This summer, we at BRYTE camp have decided to partner with the International Institute of Rhode Island, which is the hub of most refugee activity in Providence. Throughout the school year, BRYTE works very closely with the institute.
In December 2011, BRYTE launched a fundraising effort specifically for BRYTE summer camp. BRYTE's 120+ volunteers were given holiday cards detailing a narrative of BRYTE summer camp last summer, asking BRYTE volunteers and their families to each try to raise 100 dollars. The fundraising effort raised over 7,000 dollars. With that money combined with money from BRYTE's yearly budget as well as a Starr Fellowship sustaining grant, we have close to 12,000 dollars for this summer. Not a fortune, but a lot to work with.
After a long semester of seeking out a suitable location for camp, the International Institute gave word that Juanita Sanchez High School, a beautiful complex on Thurbers avenue, would allow us to have a camp! We interviewed over twenty applicants and recruited eight full time senior counselors, all Brown students, to teach eight classrooms of 5-7 kids, totaling about 50 refugee youth for the summer! In addition, we hired three high school aged youth to be junior counselors at camp. They will be assisting senior counselors in curriculum and throughout the camp day as well as planning curriculum of their own.
Throughout spring of this past semester, Jesse and I oversaw a small working group to tackle what would be BRYTE's second summer of camp. We focused on putting together curriculum resources for our staff, coming up with a camp structure and systems of behavior management, organizing fieldtrips, and more. Camp would be 9-3 on Mondays-Thursdays and 9-1 on Fridays, with math and English curriculum in the mornings and fieldtrips and workshops in the afternoons. We also determined our age range: ages 6-13. AFter the semester ended, we had a lot to work with for the summer. We're even going to have swim lessons for the kids! Camp would be held July 2nd-August 10th-at the semester's close, we can't wait!
June 11th came quickly, and now our summer work is in full swing. Our work days are 10 am-6 pm every day, sometimes 8 pm. So far, since coming back to Providence, Jesse and I have had two weeks of planning to prepare for an intensive full 5 day week of training as well as a six week summer camp. Our days are usually as follows: we wake up at 9, make our PB&Js and salads for the day and trek to the Swearer Center to plan. Interspersed in our days are meetings with community partners, training speakers, members of the Institute, and more. We put together a masive resource binder for our junior, senior, and part time summer camp staff, including a volunteer handbook, refugee resettlement information, curriculum resources, and more. Additionally, we have tested about fifty youth in math, spelling, and literacy at the Institute as well as their houses to determine their levels for summer camp. We're still adjusting the groups and matching counselors right now.
Boy do these kids have spunk. Testing 40+ kids in one room of the Institute in math and English was quite a feat-I can't imagine what 50 kids 5 days a week will be like! It's sure to be an exhausting blast.
Throughout our planning, we have struggled a lot to decide BRYTE Summer Camp's mission. With much help from those at the Swearer Center, this is what we have come up with:
BRYTE’s Summer Camp reverses typical academic backsliding and summer learning loss by providing an intensive 6-week experience that helps close the achievement gap for refugee children in Providence, RI.
Literacy and English language acquisition infuse every aspect of BRYTE’s programming. BRYTE’s approach is highly personalized with one-on-one tutoring and small group instruction.
BRYTE builds a diverse and supportive community of ~50 refugee children who share a common set of experiences (life in refugee camps; trauma from living through violent conflicts; interrupted or non-existent formal schooling).
Through field trips and other hands-on activities, BRYTE’s Summer Camp helps refugee children explore and understand their new community of Providence.
By participating in BRYTE’s Summer Camp, refugee students develop essential language skills and the self-confidence to succeed in school and in society.
A holistic approach to education: Inspiring critical thinking, creative self expression, and a love for learning through academic programming and enrichment activities
Reciprocity: Building strong relationships, fostering bidirectional learning, and promoting cross-cultural understanding
Asset based approach: Drawing on the existing strengths of the Providence refugee community and its local institutions
Empowerment through literacy: Enabling Providence refugees to access resources and advocate for themselves and their communities through English proficiency
We're so excited for the summer! After two weeks of planning, we are ready to start training for our senior, junior, and part time staff. We have a week planned full of trainings, including the following: an introduction to refugee resettlement, a training on behavior management and nonviolence, a scavenger hunt as an introduction to South Providence, much curriculum development training and more. Videos and pictures to come soon!Check periodically for updates. We'll try to update every week-it's going to be a great summer! Camp starts in a week! Our staff arries...now!BRYTE Camp Love,Becca