The Kids in Community (KIC) program at St. Stephen’s Church in Lynn is now winding down its ninth summer of providing academic enrichment and summer camp fun to kids in Lynn. Serving children who are entering grades one through six, KIC has a current enrollment of about 100 campers. The program, which runs from July 7 to Aug. 1, primarily serves children from low-income families in the Lynn community. The program is open to children of all faith backgrounds and does not include religious instruction.
In addition to providing a safe, supervised and fun community for kids, KIC aim
s to help kids maintain and expand the academic and developmental progress they’ve made during the school year.
“The summer brings long stretches of unstructured time for many children. That extended time puts kids at risk: they may not be in a place where they can be well-supervised all day, or they may do very little that exercises their mind or body for weeks on end,” said KIC director Audrey Gutfruend. “Summer programs not only counter these risks, at their best they turn the extra hours into opportunities for unique enrichment and close-knit community-building that children may not have time for during the school year.”
Children at KIC enjoy a blend of educational workshops and summer-camp style games and fun. Workshops include art, poetry and drama. KIC places an emphasis on healthy lifestyles, with fitness classes like Zumba and cooking classes that incorporate fruits and vegetables. Organizations including the Lynn Community Health Center and Food Corps also support the nutrition and fitness programming. KIC campers take field trips into Boston once a week. Past trips have included the aquarium, the Children’s Museum and the Museum of Science.
This year, KIC is continuing the theme of peace, and extending it to include conversations about how to encourage peace within oneself as well as in the community.
There are about 20 teenagers in grades 9-12 employed as counselors. “There is a real lack of jobs, and especially summer jobs, for teenagers in Lynn,” said Gutfruend. “So we try to meet some of that need.”
The teen counselors spend a week on team building, leadership and learning about working with children. They have the opportunity to share their own favorite hobbies and activities with campers, such as sports, baking and arts and crafts. Most of the volunteers at KIC are from the St. Stephen’s congregation and the Lynn community. Over the years, area Episcopal churches have brought volunteers to KIC.
The 2014 KIC program is sponsored by St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Marblehead, the Sears Family Fund, the Amelia Peabody Foundation, Old Neighborhood, the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lynn. KIC’s 2014 programming partners are The Food Project, The Family Dinner Project, Lynn Community Health Center, North Shore Youth Career Center and Workforce Investment Board, Lynn Public Schools, KIPP Academy Lynn Collegiate, Operation Bootstrap, Lynn YMCA and Lynn Reads.
--Ellen Stuart Kittle