Looking for summer activities for kids? A new website could help | St. Louis Public Radio

Looking for summer activities for kids? A new website could help

Apr 2, 2015

What are kids doing when school’s out for the summer? A new app will make finding summer camps, classes and activities easier for parents.

Blueprint4Summer is actually a technology tool that has been created to help aggregate all of the information about summer programs that exist in St. Louis, Missouri,” app funder and Build-A-Bear Workshop founder Maxine Clarke told “St. Louis on the Air” host Don Marsh on Thursday. “When I started the project, I thought there was maybe 100 or 200. There’s actually, in our database now, nearly 22,000 individual sessions of summer programs for children in St. Louis.”

Those programs vary from academic to sports, arts to science and technology; free to paid; for ages 3 to 18. Blueprint4Summer is a mobile-friendly website, not downloaded from an app store. Users can search for specific types of programs in specific geolocations; maps and bus route information are included. Blueprint4Summer is free; some camps and programs do have fees.  

“But there also are about 700 of the 2,200 that have scholarships available,” Clark said. “Many of them are totally free. A lot of the parks and recreation programs that exist throughout the communities of the St. Louis are no charge at all.”

Summer education programs are particularly important for students from disadvantaged families, said James Shuls, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy studies at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.

“Summer learning loss is real, but it impacts students from disadvantaged families the most,” he said. “Over the course of the summer, students from more advantaged families, more affluent families, oftentimes go on vacation. They go on culturally advancing field trips to museums and different places, and they do all kinds of things. More disadvantaged families oftentimes don’t do those things. We see from the summer, this gap starts to widen more and more. A lot of the achievement gap we start to see between advantaged and disadvantaged students or between races, a lot of that is established and grows through the summers.”

About 200 of the programs included in Blueprint4Summer are strictly academic, Clark said. More than 400 programs are related to STEM skills — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“If you have a curiosity, there’s a camp program in St. Louis, I can guarantee it,” Clark said.

“St. Louis on the Air” discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.