A Summer Field Trip With A Difference - Eastside Pathways
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A Summer Field Trip With A Difference

It was a summer field trip with a difference. There were no kids on the bus! Instead, 20 adults went on their first Summer Learning Field Trip to see summer programs offered by a few organizations on the Eastside.

Organized by the Summer and Extended Learning Collaborative of Eastside Pathways, the objective was to engage leaders in the Bellevue community and give them an idea of the richness of offerings in the summer learning programs space. The members of the group included Dr. Ivan Duran, Superintendent of the Bellevue School District.

While summer is usually about being free and having fun, the sad reality is that it’s not true for all kids. Research has shown that more than half the achievement gap in reading can be attributed to uneven learning in the summer.

“Unfortunately, low-income kids slide, and their higher income peers move forward. According to School’s Out Washington, this gap has increased 30-40% for kids born in 2001 compared to those born in 1976,” shared Betsy Johnson, Facilitator for the Summer and Extended Learning Collaborative. Also, access is not equal for all for high-quality summer programs. They are expensive, and available scholarships are limited.

The Eastside Pathways Summer and Extended Learning collaborative has been working on addressing some of these problems over the last several years. It has created programs in some summers to fill in gaps. This year it focused on getting information about programs and scholarships to help families navigate and find summer programs.

“The field trip was a unique opportunity to learn more about summer learning in Bellevue, meet folks passionate about enriching and engaging summer (and out of school time) experiences for our kids, and develop an understanding of the gaps that may still exist. We were hoping to start conversations about what more can we do to help kids in Bellevue during summer and after-school time during the regular school year,” said Betsy.

As the group went around Bellevue and Redmond in the two buses (generously provided by the City of Bellevue), they were privileged to get a glimpse into the amazing work being done by some of the organizations [read about them here] to keep kids active and learning all through summer. At each site, a member of the organization showed the facilities and programs. It was a joy to see kids of all ages (from pre-school to teens) and from many different cultures (over 80 languages are spoken by kids in BSD) engaged in activities that helped them explore and learn.

The creativity and imagination of the kids were indeed awesome – a cardboard box morphed into a space shuttle and an underwater tent built using plastic sheets in different hues of blue draped over chairs and tables. Dinosaurs stalked the walls of school halls and little sculptures made of recycled material (pencils) were proudly displayed. Many adults were wistfully wishing that they too could shed their work clothes and join in the fun. Confession: it was difficult to leave the KidsQuest Museum with its array of fun things to do. The adults joined the kids in the ‘water room’, helping them set up a dam and turning the wheel to fill a bucket of water that soon overturned with a loud splash!

As the tour came to end, three hours later, it was good to see the group energized and talking about ideas and plans for the future. Here are some of their comments and feedback:

What we learned

“Great options available for Bellevue students.”

“There’s a great array of partnerships to support kids.”

What was the most valuable about the trip?

“Getting to know the other services provided during the summer, meeting people and making contacts within the organizations.”

“Talking with people on the opportunities to connect.”

“Visiting other camps and getting ideas for my own organization.”

What would we like to know more about?

“How to connect further with partners to reach families in need.”

“How do programs measure outcomes and impact? What are the funding and partnership opportunities?”

“Opportunities to partner with other groups/organizations for camps and/or after-school programs.”

From L to R: David Beard (School’s Out Washington), Cathy Habib (Eastside Pathways), Josh Sutton (Bellevue YMCA), Randy Eng (Jubilee Reach), Josh Conlee (Bellevue YMCA), Ken Nsimbi (King County Housing Authority), Angela Baldwin (BSD), Karen Friedman (Pacific Continental Bank), Dr. Ivan Duran (Bellevue School District), and Kristen McChesney (Bellevue School District).

Other members of the group: Kathy Haggart (Boys & Girls Club of Bellevue), Putter Bert (KidsQuest Children’s Museum), Stephanie Cherrington (Eastside Pathways), Christina Faine (City of Bellevue), Beverly Jacobson (Eastside Pathways), Betsy Johnson (Eastside Pathways),  Mark Heilman (City of Bellevue), Chris Swan (Jubilee Reach), and Sujata Agrawal (Eastside Pathways).

Read More About the Organizations Visited:
  • Boys & Girls Club of Bellevue at Spiritwood Manor, Bellevue
  • KidsQuest Children’s Museum, Bellevue
  • Bellevue YMCA at Benjamin Rush Elementary School, Redmond
  • Crossroads Community Center and Bellevue Youth Theatre (Bellevue Parks & Community Services)
  • Lake Hills Elementary School (Bellevue School District)
  • Somerset Elementary School (Bellevue School District)



Article written by Sujata Agrawal, communications manager at Eastside Pathways