Keeping our kids engaged over the summer break

by Mayor Ed Lee

Summer vacation is considered a golden opportunity for children to catch up with their studies, make new friends through mind-stimulated engagement, read more books, advance their academic achievement, and get more physical training via sports and outdoor activities. However, the flip side of the issue is – where to find those summer activities that are affordable!

Good news. The City is here to help. Several city agencies have developed programs to help parents keep their kids active, engaged and away from the dreaded “summer brain drain,” because idle summer months could result in significant learning losses from the school year.

Summer camps are always among the most popular summer activities. The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department (RPD) is offering 60-day camps throughout the city that are affordable and convenient and will capture your child’s interest and imagination.

RPD’s art and science camps are some of our most popular programs. Eco-adventure camps teach young campers about the various habitats and ecosystems in our parks. Junior Lifeguard Camp offers campers the opportunity to learn valuable lifesaving skills, and Camp Azure offers children on the autism spectrum the opportunity to explore and play in a comfortable outdoor environment.

RPD’s long-standing Workreation program puts 150 teens to work in parks, recreation centers and offices for 12 weeks out of the summer. In the 50-plus years of its existence, Workreation has served an estimated 17,000 kids and several generations of San Francisco teens, some of whom are current city employees.

Also, RPD is partnering with the SF Housing Authority to provide free day camps to children in public housing.

Another city agency, Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF), is funding 58 comprehensive summer programs, serving nearly 3,000 youth in grades K-8 at school sites, community centers and affordable housing locations.

DCYF and SF Unified School District (SFUSD) are collaborating to support the Beacon Initiative, which transforms eight public schools into community centers that offer learning opportunities to youth and their families.

DCYF is also convening the Summer Learning Network, a coalition of advocates, providers, city departments and CBOs that share resources and raise awareness about the importance of summer learning.

In addition, DCYF is funding a variety of 21st century skill-building and employment readiness programs that serve nearly 2,500 teens and young adults during the summer. Some of these programs include internships in government offices and temporary summer jobs that expose youth to possible future careers.

While access to quality summer programs remains a challenge – only 37 percent of city youth in Kindergarten through Grade 8 will have access to comprehensive summer programs – our city agencies are working together to increase the number of summer learning opportunities and experiences for our children this year.

Providing more paid internships and jobs to our city’s youth is another focus of our goal for the summer. We launched the Summer Jobs+ Challenge to create 5,000 jobs for our young people who can learn occupational and social skills from employment opportunities to leave significant marks on their summer break.

To find out what programs your kids can take advantage of this summer, visit us online at,, and