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A pandemic rarity: Summer camp at ‘Iolani School

                                The ‘Iolani School campus will hold camplike summer sessions for students. Pictured is the interior of a dormitory room at the school.
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The ‘Iolani School campus will hold camplike summer sessions for students. Pictured is the interior of a dormitory room at the school.

‘Iolani School is offering a summer boarding program for students that aims to address not just academics, but the social experiences they missed during the pandemic.

“So many students have had an up-and-down school year, and so many families are wondering if their children are going to be on grade level,” said Timothy Cottrell, head of school. “A lot of students have lost a year of really great social experiences and all the other intangibles that go along with going to school.”

“We saw an opportunity to bring together elements that a lot of kids have missed this year and offer them in this residential experience,” Cottrell said.

While ‘Iolani’s dorm program attracts students from beyond Hawaii’s shores, this summer the school is reaching out specifically to local kids to help them get back on track, and is offering Hawaii residents a 25% discount on program fees.

The summer residential program is open to students ages 11 through 16, who will be entering sixth grade through 10th grade this fall. There are three- and six-week sessions that mix academics and recreation in June and July. Also offered are a two-week STEM camp and a one-week golf program.

Courses range from algebra to hip-hop, and genome science to drone design. The camp includes afternoon activities and sports as well as weekend excursions and field trips.

The dorms are set up to allow students to be in small “family” units so they can relax with their roommates. Dorm capacity is roughly 100 students. They will live together on campus, taking courses in the morning and having fun in the afternoon, with a camplike experience that’s rare during the pandemic.

This academic year, ‘Iolani has handled boarding students as well its large student population on campus with strict safety protocols. The school also recently received approval to administer COVID-19 antigen tests.

“We have nearly an entire academic year under our belts, with all of the campus transmission prevention strategies we use, face masks, face shields, hand-washing, social distance, all those things,” Cottrell said.

The school has about 2,400 people on campus daily, and so far there has been “zero transmission on campus,” Cottrell said, although there have been cases of coronavirus that involved exposure off campus.

The cost of the summer program, including tuition, room, board, sports, activities and excursions is $5,995 for three weeks and $10,995 for six weeks. Hawaii residents receive a 25% discount by using the promo code ALOHA.

More information is online at iolani.org/srp.

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