Summer Campers Learn Value of Hard Work, Thanks to Benjamin Jones


Benjamin with children

Benjamin Jones wanted to show his students at the Lincoln Park Family Center that hard work pays off. 

Throughout the summer, 16 students logged in every day for three hours to prevent the summer slide and complete their academic summer camp work. To reward these students for their grit and follow-through, Mr. Jones, an after school group leader, used his own money to purchase each student a $10 gift card so they could buy themselves something special. Mr. Jones, along with staff from the center, drove to each student’s home and delivered the gift card, a toy, snacks and their admiration. 

“These were kids logging in every day to do math and reading,” said Mr. Jones. “They engaged in every activity. When it came time to reward them, it was second nature.”

When Mr. Jones handed out his gift cards, the students could not have been happier. 

“They loved it,” said Lincoln Park Family Center Site Director Nikisha Cunningham. “They weren't expecting it.”

The summer camp helped students keep sharp and prepared for the coming school year. Each day consisted of math and reading games, as well as character development activities. Time was also built in for the kids to talk about their day or show off their favorite things at home. In between each subject was a 5-minute break called "get up and move" to work in physical activities. 

Each week, the group went on virtual field trips to far away locales such as Mars, New York City, the Atlanta Aquarium, Beijing, Cameroon, Northern Ireland and the San Diego Zoo.  

There also were weekly science experiments for hands-on fun. Staff members delivered materials to make slime, an egg in a bottle, toothpaste and clay.

“Overall, the staff and I feel really good about how well this program turned out,” said Mrs. Cunningham.

The summer camp is an annual event that has always been conducted in person. Keeping the program going was a must. 

“It was extremely important for all of us,” said Mr. Jones. “We knew that the kids looked forward to it just as much as we did. The last day I saw them was March 13. I thought things would get back to normal, but when they didn’t, we knew we had to reinvent ourselves to let them know we are still here for them, we still cared and we’re a family.”

This is one more example of how AIU staff make a difference.