As the school year simmers down and the heat turns up, the summer months look different for everyone. Some kids are shooting hoops at basketball camp, while others sit poolside or earn some cash at a summer job.

Every summer, millions of Black children are enrolled in summer camps, with participation steadily increasing since 2008. And a trend among Black parents is choosing programs that help keep their children excited about learning and keep them from losing academic ground during the break.

When she started the D.C.-based Kids & Culture Camp over a decade ago, Jania Otey was creating a remedy for a problem she saw. Otey, who has home schooled her children their whole lives, was looking for an all-encompassing summer program. She was “disappointed with the offerings.”

“The camps were very singular in focus,” she says. “I actually wanted something more for my children. In particular, I wanted a camp that encompassed lots of different aspects focused on enrichment but also a huge part of culture that they would not get in a traditional school setting.”

Not too far away in Richmond, Virginia, Angela Patton was on a similar mission. She walked around her neighborhood advertising her Camp Diva Leadership Academy, which was focused on helping girls both get out of the house and learn how to use their voice.

“I noticed the lack of programming that would engage [girls], and other people joined me,” Patton says. “They started to see the need for young girls to have a space of their own.”

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