Summer Jam exists to provide a safe, fun, and loving environment where children and youth are encouraged to learn and grow, experience new things, and develop a closer relationship with Jesus Christ. Operating for eight weeks of the summer on Mondays through Thursdays, Summer Jam is overseen by Fortress staff and facilitated by college interns and visiting youth groups.
Serving over 100 children ages 4-14 each day, Summer Jam acts as a bridge to connect learning from one school year to the next. While academic growth is a primary focus for all of Fortress YDC's programs, the summer program is unique in its ability to put equal emphasis on social, emotional and spiritual growth. Youth groups from across Texas and the nation spend a week at a time mentoring students and facilitating the VBS components of the program. Interns build meaningful relationships with the students that have a lasting impact far beyond the summer. Daily Bible curriculum, worship, and character building help students encounter God in ways they haven't before.
Students enrolled in Summer Jam also enjoy the typical "summer experience." They get to explore new horizons with weekly field trips ranging from the Fort Worth Zoo to Main Event to the Museum of Science and History. Elementary-aged children choose Special Interest Classes where they learn new hobbies and skills, such as cooking, dance, knitting, basketball and more. The summer schedule has its fair share of "special days," like Water Day, Mad Scientist Mondays, and a "Drive-In Movie". Elementary and middle school-aged students also spend a week at Camp of the Hills, a sleepaway camp located in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.
For visiting youth groups, Summer Jam is a multi-dimensional service experience. During the afternoons, summer interns facilitate Urban Experience, a simulation that allows high school students and their sponsors to experience life "on the other side of the tracks." Spanning three days, the experience first takes youth groups on a Prayer Drive - a tour of Fortress's immediate neighborhood with stops at the historic Evans Plaza, Hillside Park, and Homeless Row. Day Two has youth groups evaluate whether or not they could survive on a poverty-level budget; with only $0.90 to spend per person, the group must navigate the city bus system to the nearest grocery store and make it back in time to prepare dinner for themselves. Often the most beloved part of the Urban Experience, the third day is a humbling and eye-opening experience when groups return to Homeless Row on foot to minister to and spend two hours with Fort Worth's homeless population.
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