BARSTOW — Dancing in a Native American pow wow, learning about the Oregon Trail and creating salt dough pottery are some the enrichment activities in this year’s pioneer-themed SummerBoost camp being held for six weeks at Cameron Elementary school.

The national program — dedicated to preventing children’s summer learning loss — was recently awarded the 2017 New York Life Foundation Founder’s Award for being an “innovative, diverse and experiential learning opportunity for students.”

The international organization Save the Children’s signature program, SummerBoost camp serves more than 1,200 students nationwide. According to Save the Children, learning loss particularly affects low-income students who are disproportionately at risk of falling academically behind their higher-income peers during the summer months. These children can fall 2 1/2 to 3 years behind their peers by the fifth grade.

Program officials say that “76 percent of regularly participating children show improved math scores during their time at SummerBoost Camp, and 64 percent of targeted SummerBoost children maintain or improve their reading proficiency over the summer months."

The camp has been operating in Barstow for about five years.

“We’ve partnered with other organizations as well as the school district to provide this resource free of charge,” said Save the Children’s California State Director Michel Schneider. “We provide ready to learn school activities like STEM robotics so that when the semester starts again, there’s no gap.”

The program serves 50 students selected on a first-come, first-served basis at the end of the school year. The camp day is broken into literacy, healthy lifestyle, math and enrichment components starting at 8 a.m and going until 2 p.m.

“There’s interest for more sites and always a waiting list since only 50 slots are available,” said Save the Children program specialist Dino Pliego.

This year, the kids were taken on a field trip to Knott’s Berry Farm to coincide with the pioneering theme, at no cost.

“Overall, we’re disguising the learning and trying to create the camp-like environment,” said Pliego. “There’s no surrounding communities where kids can go do these kind of things.”

For more information about the National Summer Learning Association and the SummerBoost Camp, visit