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Summer Compass: COVID-Style

Updated: Aug 30, 2021

by Lindsay Kolquist

Because of COVID-19, Summer Compass looks different than it has in the past. We’ve traded in bussing and classrooms for walk groups and virtual challenges. Summer Compass 2020 was thoughtfully designed to meet specific goals by incorporating specific strategies.

Summer Compass 2020 Goals:

1. Social Interaction

A child building legos with a young adult supervising

In a time of social distancing and

video chatting, social engagement and support is crucial. We know that kids benefit from nurturing, supportive relationships, and constructive social engagement, which most of our kids experience at home. The benefits of having non-familial adults (Collaborative staff) in their lives are the additional promotion of high expectations, opportunity to build trust, and outside sources of encouragement. As cited by Mentor Duluth, positive adult role models were identified in a citywide Duluth needs assessment as high priority for our community at-large and we are proud to be part of that solution.

2. Healthy Habit Promotion

With limited meal services and stay-at-home recommendations, it’s easy to fall into unhealthy habits. Kids do not learn and grow unless their basic needs are met. We are working to meet those needs and relay information about healthy habits to our students. This is one of the ways we provide integrated student supports, one of the four pillars of community schools, at Myers-Wilkins.

3. Engaging Curriculum

Kids have been physically away from school since mid-March. Even with top-notch teachers and well-planned distance learning, kids are falling behind academically. Summer Compass is the perfect opportunity to keep the learning ball rolling. Our creative, engaging mode of instruction: LEGOs.

Summer Compass 2020 Strategies:

1. Walk Groups

Working towards our social interaction goal, weekly walks serve as emotional check-ins and social engagement time. Walks groups are socially distanced and with small groups. Kids develop relationships and trust. Our second goal, to promote healthy habits, is also addressed. Walk groups expose children to sunlight, open air, and natural elements, all of which benefit their physical health. Kids’ physiological needs are met when they receive healthy snacks and engage in physical activity. Being part of a walk group creates a sense of belonging. The third Summer Compass goal is to create engaging learning opportunities. Walks include hands-on (COVID style) activities and reflection.

1. Virtual Challenges

A student holding a lego plane

Virtual challenges allow peer-support and interaction, and they promote teamwork at home. They teach kids to ask for help when needed. All challenges are LEGO-based and all kids received a free box of LEGOs at the start of the summer. The virtual challenges also encourage kids to get outside and take care of their physical and emotional health through nature-based and self-reflective activities. Challenges teach stress-management, emotional regulation, and identity development. Summer Compass, as an extended learning opportunity, bridges two academic years using literacy, STEM, social-emotional, and art challenges.

In a survey done by the University of Minnesota Extension Center for Youth Development, both educators and out of school time leaders agreed that social emotional learning is critical to academic performance. Play promotes social competence, emotional resilience, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Through play, kids develop behavioral, social, and emotional flexibility and development.


This summer, we are working to deliver socially engaging, health-oriented, and academically engaging programming for our Summer Compass students. With walk groups and virtual challenges underway, we are on track to do so.

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