Earlier this year, more than 45 Berks County leaders met with the Community Foundation to talk about community resiliency and environmental health. The leaders hailed from government agencies, nonprofit organizations, and local businesses whose work focuses on critical issues such as stormwater management, land conservation and preservation, health, transportation infrastructure, and the built environment.
We were joined by experts from the Institute for Conservation Leadership (ICL), who posed a series of questions aimed at determining ways the Community Foundation could deploy its resources to address environmental issues in Berks County.
Based on the answers to those questions, ICL made three recommendations:
We look forward to continuing this work and providing space for these important conversations to happen. For now, click here to learn more about this project and to read the full set of recommendations.
Having a community-based summer camp opportunity for children can be beneficial – and in some cases necessary – for families. The Salvation Army Reading Citadel has long recognized the need for affordable summer childcare and hosts a summer day camp for children ages 6 through 13. The program is supported in part by a grant from the First United Church of Christ Mission Fund of Berks County Community Foundation.
Last year, the Salvation Army’s summer camp provided 42 children with a healthy environment where they could spend their days during the summer. The camp offered activities to keep the kids entertained, such as academic instruction, arts and crafts, unstructured playtime, opportunities to explore science and nature, field trips, bible lessons, and more.
This summer camp first ran in 2021, and the Salvation Army Reading Citadel was able to host 26 children. The following year, the camp expanded, and a decrease in COVID-19 cases in the area allowed for more field trip opportunities.
The primary goal of summer camp is to further develop academic, artistic, and leadership skills while helping children retain the academic progress they had made during the school year.
To achieve this goal, the camp staff had the children take math and reading assessments during the first week of camp. Based on the performance of the campers, the camp staff assigned children math and reading lessons that would benefit them the most. At the end of the camp season, the children took a new exam at the same difficulty level. The camp staff found that the children had improved their scores by an average of more than 16 percent.
The First United Church of Christ Mission Fund supports causes that were important to the mission of the First United Church of Christ in Reading, PA, including helping Berks County children participate in activities that their families would otherwise not be able to afford.
When asked about the impact that summer camp had on student life, Victoria Schrag, secretary of Salvation Reading Citadel, said, “It felt like we were building a family here at the summer camp.”
In the coming years, the Salvation Army Reading Citadel staff hopes to expand to support even more campers.
To learn more about the First United Church of Christ Mission Fund, visit https://bccf.org/funds/first-united-church-of-christ-mission-fund/
To learn more about the Salvation Army Reading Citadel, visit https://easternusa.salvationarmy.org/eastern-pennsylvania/reading-pa/