Real-World Learning

Saint Joseph’s Hosts Annual Summer Reading Camp

by Erin O'Boyle

Child sitting at a table looking at a laptop and smiling.
Keys to the Article
  • Each year, St. Joe’s runs a summer reading camp, where graduate students in the reading specialist graduate program tutor local elementary and middle schoolers in reading, spelling and writing.
  • Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer camp will be held virtually for the second year in a row, with registration fees waived.
  • Each graduate student is assigned two or three children, and designs a personalized education program specific to the child’s reading level and needs.

For the second year in a row, Saint Joseph’s summer reading camp is returning in a virtual format. And just like last summer, this year’s registration fees were waived.

Though the camp has been around for over three decades, this is only the second year it’s taken place in a virtual format. During camp, students from local elementary and middle schools are tutored by graduate students in the reading specialist graduate program at St. Joe’s. The children are pre-tested to determine their reading level, spelling ability and writing skills. Then the graduate students design an educational program geared toward each child’s specific reading level and needs.

Catherine Gibbons, Ed.D., adjunct professor and director of the summer reading camp, explains that not only does the camp aim to help remediate any reading issues or concerns, but it also helps children who may be reading at an advanced level.

“Sometimes we get kids who are reading at a fourth-grade level when they’re in second grade,” she says. “Then we develop an accelerated program for them. We progress-monitor along the way to share with parents how their child is growing and progressing.”

Gibbons says that a major goal of the summer reading camp is to help the children develop a love for reading. “We try to increase motivation – because it is a summer program – so we gear everything toward the child’s interest,” she explains. “That’s a really big part of our program, to make sure we fuel that love of reading.”

All 42 spots in this year’s camp quickly filled up, with many children returning from previous years. Gibbons says that parents want to make sure their child is continuing to grow along their grade level, while other children simply love reading and want to remain involved in something they enjoy.

The camp also provides an opportunity for St. Joe’s students in the reading specialist graduate program to complete their literacy practicum and obtain their reading specialist certification. The practicum is worth six credits and is the last requirement of the reading specialist program. 

Gibbons likens it to an internship, where graduate students take everything they have learned throughout their coursework, and apply it through their instructions with the children. She explains that each graduate student is assigned two or three pupils on the same reading level with the same needs. 

“A grad student might work with a first grader, or they might work with eighth grade students,” she says. “They also have professional development opportunities where they go and see what other graduate students are doing with younger or older kids, to get the full experience.”