Participants in Youth Organization Umbrella’s summer camps gave visitors a look at their art, science and community exploration projects at the Summer Showcase Thursday evening.

Nearly 300 people turned out to for the session at Nichols Middle School.

About 75 camp participants showed off their work in an expo format with presentations about projects, and live performances. Spectators cheered as elementary-age participants took on their parents at basketball and observed campers transform a blank canvas into a mural.

Highlights of the night included business pitches from high school youth in Y.O.U.’s Youth Entrepreneurship Summer (YES!) camp, food samples from the middle school gardening group that included vegetables and seasonings grown and harvested by the youth in Y.O.U.’s garden, presentations from youth in middle and high school on healthy relationships and an elementary dance performance that left the whole room clapping along.

“The event was a wonderful celebration of our extraordinary youth and the amazing projects they’ve completed this summer,” said Seth Green, Y.O.U.’s executive director.

Y.O.U.’s no cost, daily, nine-week summer program engages youth in activities exploring arts and culture, science and technology, and sports and recreation.

Green says studies show that participation in high-quality summer learning programs adds up to a five month learning gain for students when they return to school in the fall. This summer Y.O.U. is serving 450 Evanston and Skokie youth through eight unique summer camps.

“Our summer program is all about experiential learning that helps youth grow academically, socially, and emotionally,” said Green. “This summer we were able to reach more youth than ever before with transformative and engaging programming that kept youth active and learning.”

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