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Free camp prepares Passaic Co. students for the challenges of the new school

Free camp prepares Passaic Co. students for the challenges of the new school

PASSAIC COUNTY, N.J. — Walking into a new building on the first day of middle or high school can be intimidating for students. A free camp in Passaic County aims to give young people the tools and confidence to start the new year off right, organizers say.

The New Jersey Statewide Student Support Services (NJ4S) network hosts a 10-day camp in August for youth entering 6th through 9th grade called “Summer Rising.”

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The camp is designed to support students’ emotional well-being and help them prepare for the transition to high school, according to NJ4S. Students are provided with lunch and a snack each day, and the camp includes group activities and socialization, as well as weekly Friday field trips.

“Lessons are taught about building friendships, dealing with setbacks and developing resilience,” the organizers said.

The NJ4S Summer Camp logo (image via NJ Department of Children and Families)

The two-week program runs weekdays from noon to 4 p.m. August 5-9 and August 12-16. Campers will meet at 101 Oliver Street in Paterson and use a nearby school gym and green space at the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park for activities.

During Summer Rising, incoming freshmen will tackle their college anxiety and explore different career options, said Kathy Barretto, director of the Passaic County NJ4S Hub.

Many students entering high school are under a lot of pressure to be “college ready,” Barreto said. She also wants to expose students to careers in construction and other industries.

The sixth-graders focus on developing emotional skills and dealing with social challenges. According to Barretto, Passaic County Hub members have noticed a “general decline in pre-teen social skills” in local schools.

Some “don’t know how to have a conversation or make new friends,” and others become “possessive of the friends they already have and are unwilling to step outside their comfort zone.”

The Summer Rising camp uses an evidence-based curriculum called Positive Action, which teaches youth how to care for their physical and mental health, manage their thoughts, actions, and feelings, and practice empathy and cooperation with others.

To register your child for camp, click here.