Summer Bridge Program

The Princeton-Blairstown Center's Summer Bridge Program was piloted in the summer of 2015 with seed funding from the Victoria Foundation and the Laura J. Niles Foundation.  The program is a one week leadership and enrichment program that is designed to serve approximately 550-600 low-income young people, free of charge, and help students:

  • Lessen summer learning loss; 
  • Build social-emotional skills like cooperation, communication, creativity, critical-thinking skills, and responsibility; and
  • Form positive, supportive relationships with peers and adults.

PBC partners with schools and community based organizations in Trenton, NJ; Newark, NJ; and New York City to address the "summer learning gap" in an innovative way that helps at-risk youth develop and integrate their academic, physical, and social and emotional well-being, along with their environmental awareness and stewardship. Students participate in an intensive five-day-and-four-night educational experience at the Center's beautiful 264-acre Blairstown Campus. For many, it is their first experience living in a rustic setting with a lake and forest.  Each program is custom designed to provide three hours of academic enrichment daily, help build and immerse students in school culture, and create a strong sense of team and belonging while enlarging each student's social-emotional toolbox to carry over into the new school year.  Students and faculty/staff build relationships that can be leveraged when they return to the classroom/agency.

During the week-long program, students are divided into small groups of 10-12 and paired with a trained facilitator and a school/agency chaperone.  Each group spends time engaged in hands-on Literacy, S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), and Project Based Learning that focuses on  S.T.E.A.M.; an hour a day in waterfront activities (swimming/canoeing/kayaking) and three hours a day in leadership, team-building, and problem-solving activities.  The opening and closing evenings include campfire circles that focus on values clarification and celebrate accomplishments.  Students also engage in their choice of several recreational and S.T.E.A.M. activities for an hour each day along with daily restoration activities (stewardship of their cabins, the dining room and the wash houses) that are designed to teach responsibility and community.

Some outcomes from our 2017 Summer Bridge Program include:

  • One-quarter of the students rated the experience a “10” for “the best time ever,” and 67% rated it an “8” or higher.
  • Nearly 50% felt more confident they could be a good leader.
  • More than half felt they could be more effective in helping a group be successful.
  • Half felt more tolerant toward others with opinions different from their own.
  • Nearly 65% felt better able to cooperate with others.
  • 0% were more likely to look for what might be causing their problem.
  • Nearly three-quarters want to learn more about new ideas.
  • Nearly three-quarters accept responsibility for their actions.
  • 67% enjoy the freedom of the outdoors.

More outcomes from Summer Bridge 2017:
Summer Bridge Student Survey Results
Summer Bridge Teacher and Chaperone Survey Results

Learn more about the Center's Summer Bridge Program Logic Model.