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 450-500 low-income young people, free of charge, and help students:

  • Form positive, supportive relationships with peers and adults;
  • Lessen summer learning loss; and
  • Build social-emotional skills like teamwork, communication, persistence, resilience, and locus of control.

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, science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), and science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) work; 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 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 2016 Summer Bridge Program include:

  • One-quarter of the students rated the experience a “10” for “the best time ever,” and almost 75% rated it an “8” or higher.
  • Nearly 50% felt more confident they could be a good leader.
  • Half felt more tolerant toward others with opinions different from their own.
  • Nearly 60% felt better able to cooperate with others.
  • Nearly three-quarters want to learn more about new ideas.
  • Nearly three-quarters accept responsibility for their actions.
  • 60% enjoy the freedom of the outdoors.
  • 100% of the teachers and chaperones felt the program activities helped their students reach the goals of the program. 
  • 100% of the teachers and chaperones felt their students demonstrated improved team-building skills. 
  • 96% of the teachers and chaperones felt their students demonstrated improved leadership skills. 
  • 95% of the teachers and chaperones felt their students demonstrated improved communication skills. 
  • 90% of the teachers and chaperones felt their students demonstrated improved problem-solving skills.

More outcomes from Summer Bridge 2016:
Summer Bridge Student Survey Results
Summer Bridge Teacher and Chaperone Survey Results