Free Arizona summer camp will return to help students recover pandemic learning loss

Gov. Doug Ducey announced this week that a free summer camp program created to help school children catch up from learning losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic will be offered again next year.

From June to August, more than 70,000 kids participated in summer camp sessions across 685 campsites in all 15 counties. The first summer of AZ OnTrack summer program was funded with about $100 million from the American Rescue Plan.

The governor’s office expects interest in the summer camp program will be heightened by the national assessment test results released Monday.

National Assessment of Educational Progress data showed Arizona students followed a national decline in math scores from 2019 to 2022 but held their ground in reading over that period.


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“In light of this barometer of our kids’ success, there’s no time to waste to catch our kids up. We must continue to pour on the gas in our efforts,” Ducey said. “We know our kids lost ground during the pandemic — it was not good for them.”

The governor’s office awarded grants to schools and organizations, like the YMCA, that hosted summer camp programs. The host schools and organizations offered programs tailored to children interested in various subjects and activities, including music, sports, science and history.

In order to help children recoup losses incurred during the pandemic, the camp sessions were required to offer an academic component that covered one of the following topics: math, civics, literacy or building attitudes and behaviors that supported learning. Another option for this component was credit recovery.

A full report on this year’s camp outcomes has not been released yet, but preliminary results show that 86% of students who participated in camps either made progress or met or exceeded the learning goals set for them at camp. Additionally, in the higher grade levels, students recovered thousands of academic credits.

Ducey said that another round of the program will help Arizona students avoid further learning loss.

“This is a community effort, and we cannot afford for our kids to lose ground next summer,” he said. “With more choices now than ever for their education, we will meet the moment.”

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Renata Cló is a reporter on The Arizona Republic's K-12 education team. You can reach her at, follow her on Twitter @renataclo and join the conversation in our Facebook group:

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: AZ OnTrack: Free Arizona summer camp program returns to help students