Summer SAIL programs make waves: 700 kids take part in Detroit Lakes school district's new day camps

Focused on art, technology, reading and math, and nature, the four-day-long summer camps for kids were made possible with special grant funding intended to support students' transitions back to school after the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 700 elementary and middle school students have participated in the camps -- a huge increase from the 150 or so that typically take part in the district's summer SAIL programs.

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Summer SAIL students participated in their first-ever SAIL Regatta on June 30. The kids designed their boats and then floated them at the beach. (From the Detroit Lakes Public Schools Facebook page)

Nearly 700 elementary and middle school students have been busy painting, reading, exploring nature, making videos, computer coding and more this summer through the Detroit Lakes Public School District’s SAIL programs (Student Achievement In Learning).

That’s a whopping number of kids compared to the usual 150 or so that typically take part in summer SAIL programs. The big increase is due to four new, unique day camps the district has offered this summer to kids in grades kindergarten through eight. Focused on art, technology, reading and math, and nature, the camps were made possible by special funding from the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, or GEERF.

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Art Adventures students painted and then hid rocks for the DL Rocks Facebook group in mid-June. Keep an eye out at the Detroit Lakes City Park for these colorful creations. (From the Detroit Lakes Public Schools Facebook page)

GEERF was established in the CARES Act, by the U.S. Department of Education, to provide state governors with COVID-19-related emergency assistance grants for school districts and other educational entities. The funding is intended to support students’ transitions back to school after the pandemic.


“With this GEERF funding, the Detroit Lakes Public School District was able to provide expanded services to all students, including transportation,” explained Peter Lundin, the director of the district’s Targeted Services, in an email to the Tribune. The result, he added, was a “BIG jump” in the number of participating students.

Summer School and Targeted Services are long-standing extended-day and extended-year programs in Detroit Lakes, Lundin said; about five years ago, the name of these programs for grades K-8 was changed to SAIL.

The GEERF-funded expanded programming offered this summer -- all as day camps that run Monday through Thursday -- include Art Adventures, SAILing into Summer, Tech Time, and Learning Outdoors in the Outdoors at Tamarac.

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In late July, SAIL students at the Detroit Lakes Boys and Girls Club explored catapults to determine how to change the distance of trajectory. They also experimented with the effects of launching objects of different weights and materials. SAIL programming is offered to kids in grades K-5 at the Club, in partnership with Detroit Lakes Public Schools. The Club works directly with district teaching staff on math, reading and STEM skills, all summer long. (From the Detroit Lakes Public Schools Facebook page)

Art Adventures, which took place twice in June, was geared to students in grades K-8 who have an interest in art. Students made tie-dye shirts, decorated the Ecumen courtyard with sidewalk chalk, painted and hid rocks around town as part of the DL Rocks Facebook project, and made paintings, sculptures and mosaic crafts in class, along with other creative creations.

The reading and math camp, SAILing into Summer, was offered once in late June and will be offered again in mid-August. Aimed at students in kindergarten through fifth grade, it has an overall STEM focus (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).

In Tech Time, which took place in July, students in grades 3-8 explored video and photo production in the morning, and coding in the afternoons. They made their own videos and photographs using a green screen, so they could edit in fun backgrounds.


And happening this week and again next week are two Learning Outdoors in the Outdoors at Tamarac camps, geared to students in kindergarten through eighth grade who want to learn more about nature. These camps are being held at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, with students bussed there by the school district.

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In Tech Time, in mid-July, students used a green screen to create videos and photographs with fun backgrounds. (From the Detroit Lakes Public Schools Facebook page)

The camps were made possible in large part through the work of Lundin along with his administrative assistant, Jeanette Shornack, SAIL Program Coordinator Rhonda Fode, and the many Detroit Lakes teachers who have led the programs.

“This summer has been a fabulous example of the level of professionalism, caring and creativity of Detroit Lakes teachers,” said Lundin.

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