This interest was initially dispersed, being higher among some children and lower for the angrier and more depressive children. Still, with sustained efforts, the second category of children also registered an increase in its interest towards education. From the theoretical standpoint, this change can be explained by the efforts to stimulate children education. These efforts were directly made by the interns and the volunteers at the summer program, and they were indirectly supported by the children who were more eager to learn. The stimulation to learn not only directs the children towards an increased emphasis on learning, but it also stimulates their future social position. This stimulation effort is necessary and welcomed in summer programs for all children, since lacunas in educational stimulation can exist in any household, regardless of socio-economic status.
"Children of high stimulating home environments scored higher in social adjustment that those from a low stimulating home environment even when we take into account their parents' education and the total income of the house. We may conclude that there are social adjustment gaps among children of different levels of home stimulating families regardless of their socio-economic status" (Huang, 2007).
4. Benefits of internship
The most important benefit of the summer program is represented by the changes in the attitudes of children and their perceptions and expectations of life. With the aid of the summer program, the children come to overcome the social and economic shortages, and become part of a team and learn friendship, effort, commitment and determination to succeed. These improvements in attitudes and perceptions help the children to better interact within the society and can even stimulate them to engage in education more, reducing as such the temptation for child criminality.
The improvements in child attitudes and perceptions can also help improve the family relationships. Specifically, some of the children attending the summer program had difficult relationships with their parents, as a result of material insufficiencies, frustrations and other problems characteristic of the underprivileged social class. These tensions were being transmitted to the children.
In the summer program however, the children managed to move away from these frustrations and went back home with a more positive attitude and a more constructive approach of life. These changes in children attitude could be further on transmitted to the parents, or could be preserved by the children, and this would help improve the relationship between the two generations. Still, in order to make sure of the sustainability of this benefit, more studies should be conducted within the families after the summer program.
All in all, the summer program organized for the children in underprivileged families has generated a series of effects at the level of the children and the communities. Still, the long-term feasibility of these benefits is difficult to estimate at this stage. It is however expected for the benefits to have maximum impacts within the short-term, and for these benefits to decrease as the life of the children progresses.
In some few instances, where the child is dedicated to the teachings learnt in the camp and is consequent in implementing them, they might generate life changing benefits. In most cases however, the benefits are expected to decrease in important as the child ages and they would forget the lessons learnt in the camp. In order to enforce them, it would be necessary to reintegrate the children in the summer programs the following years as well.
5. Suggestions for the future
At the end of the summer program, several observations were made, based on situations in which the intern was a direct or indirect participant. Based on these observations, some suggestions can be made for future programs, in order to further enhance their success and quality. One example in this sense is represented by the recognition of the decreased access to health care of these underprivileged children. In such a setting, it would be recommended for the future summer programs to also integrate at least one medical staff, to assess the general health of the children and make recommendations to improve the state of their health. The conclusions could be written and handed out to the children, to take home to their parents. The medical doctor would also be open and willing to discuss the health issue of the children with their parents and make recommendations as to how these could be addressed; the pediatrician could even offer tips to the parents on how to access more cost effective health care solutions.
The second recommendation for the future development of summer programs is also derived from an important observation regarding the underprivileged children, namely the fact that they can be more closed up and more prone to depression than children from privileged classes. In this context then, the recommendation is that of also integrating a psychiatrist in the program.
The professional could observe the children and interact with them in a direct and indirect manner, to identify their internal problems. The children could then be counseled and helped on how to free themselves of negative feelings such as frustrations, depression or anger, and how to focus on the positive aspects of life and become motivated to do better for themselves in life. Such an intervention from a specialized psychiatrist could change the entire course of the life of a child and could even generate positive impacts at the level of the community, by reducing, for instance, the risk of criminality.
A final suggestion refers to the expectation for short lived benefits of the camp. In order to enforce them, it would be necessary for the same children to be reintegrated in summer programs throughout the following years. Still, such a measure is virtually impossible due to the high number of underprivileged children who would require such services, compared with the limited possibilities of the center in providing summer programs for such individuals; this limitation also includes the need for the organizing center to collect financial resources on its own (such as sponsorships and donations) and finance the program on its own.
In other words, in the context of the impossibility to reintegrate the same children in the summer programs each year, it is recommended for the team of volunteers and interns to build consistency in other manners. Some solutions in this sense would be represented by email communications between the staffs and the children, or the organizing of events at the center; the children from all summer programs would be invited at the meetings and the scope would be that of keeping track of each other, but also reinforcing the original lessons and the benefits of the summer programs, as well as adding new ones.
During the recent period, an event occurred that allowed the individual to assess the behaviors of the children and the staffs during a summer program organized for the children from underprivileged families. The behaviors of the individuals participating in the summer program revolved around the promotion of education of understanding between the staffs and the children, and these categories among themselves. The staffs were more protective and understanding of the children due to the socio-economic imbalances these suffered in their lives, and the children commenced to be more sociable and overcome the shortages of their backgrounds.
The summer program generated a series of benefits for the children -- and subsequently for their family and society -- but the long-term maintenance of these benefits required additional efforts on the part of both children as well as center.
Epstein, I., 2008, the Greenwood encyclopedia of children's issues worldwide, Vol. 3, Greenwood Publishing Group
Huang, Y.S., 2007, the effect of home stimulation on social adjustment: comparative study of Asian-American and Causacian kindergarteners, ProQuest
Hunt, 1993, Literature for children CL, Routledge
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