SummerCollab brings boat building (and more) to Sussex County students

October 16, 2017

Since its official launch as a standalone organization in 2015, SummerCollab has made waves with its innovative summer learning programs for low-income, underserved Delaware students. And the group has already started receiving national honors. SummerCollab was selected as the winner of the National Summer Learning Association’s 2017 Founder’s Award.   One of the org’s programs is Tyler’s Camp, a free camp for low-income middle-school youth designed by SummerCollab. It started with the help of Salesianum School’s Salsthon fundraiser in 2016. SummerCollab Executive Director Catherine Lindroth stresses the importance of the often underserved middle-school demographic. “After 12 years of age, low-income students are no longer able to access daycare opportunities,” Lindroth said. ” This means that in their most critical years, they are not participating in high-quality learning experiences. They are not exposed to positive opportunities that can light them up about all the possibilities for who they can be.” Impressively, Salsthon students raised over $100,000 in just a few months through a social media campaign. That initial campaign helped to launch a pilot for over 200 students, offering a range of experiences — including animation, coding and field hockey. The camp, which is operated with STRIVE, is named after Tyler Brown, a gifted senior at Salesianum who passed away just before graduating. “His love for the community, volunteerism, art and athletics was paramount throughout his entire life,” Lindroth said. “As we moved closer to the launch of the middle school academy, Tyler’s friends asked that we name it in his legacy.” Now in its second year, Tyler’s Camp, with the help of Christine Cannon of the Arsht-Cannon Fund, is expanding to Sussex County, where low-income middle-schoolers are being equally underserved. “We were able to launch a pilot program for 80 students,” Lindroth said of the downstate expansion. “Over eight weeks, students have played field hockey, soccer, wrestling; they have explored tap and audio engineering. Students are building boats, and have made movies. And this is just the beginning.” Wait. They get to build actual boats? “Full-size boats,” she said. Twenty 6th–9th-graders built them with power tools. “With the support of volunteers at the Lewes Historical Society, they will launch their boats at Canal Front Park.”

A SummerCollab student helps build a boat. (Courtesy photo)

While SummerCollab winds down another successful summer of fun learning retention, they’re looking forward to more summers and more learning. If it sounds like something you’d be interested in getting involved with, SummerCollab is actively looking for passionate teachers, college students and top high school students to join the team next summer. If you have or know a kid who would benefit from SummerCollab, applications are available through existing community-based agencies, including the Boys and Girls Clubs and area YMCA locations. A full list of the group’s network can be found on the SummerCollab website. Link: