JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Area summer programs are filling up and these organizations are attributing this to the economy, population growth, and the effects of Tennessee’s third-grade retention law.

At the Boys and Girls Club of Johnson City/Washington County, they’re counting down the days to summer vacation and are preparing for children coming for an educational boost.

“This year has a little special twist to it,” said President and CEO Robin Crumley. “So much is going on with summer learning loss and third-grade reading and are our kids on the right schedule.”

Crumley says this is something they started incorporating into their summer program around three to four years ago. This year they have an academic interventionist in place to specifically focus on reading.

“Sometimes we call it summer brain game and we create things and blow things up,” said Crumley. “And sometimes we have reading groups and math groups and things like that. And it lets kids still have fun, not think that they’re in school, but have some of that touch.”

Coalition for Kids’ Johnson City location has a full summer program of around 250. (Photo: WJHL)

Coalition for Kids’ Johnson City location’s program was full three weeks ago. Operators say they always have a waiting list but this year is different.

“With the world that we’re living in today, it feels worse because: the economy’s changed, the way that food costs are, the population has risen so much,” said Executive Director Randy Hensley.

To address population growth in the area, Coalition for Kids extended a summer program to Bristol, Tennessee and plans to expand into Washington County, Tennessee next year.

“You do have almost a ten thousand population growth point that we’re dealing with when it comes to Johnson City alone,” said Hensley. “So, we are experiencing higher numbers and higher need than we’ve ever experienced and there’s just no more space.”

They say not being overcrowded is very important for the kids.

“That having too many, then we call it herding cats and you don’t make the impact,” said Hensley. “The more staff we can hire, the more kids we can make a difference in their life.”

Registration is still open for the Boys and Girls Club for their summer program. You can sign up by following this link.

The waiting list for Coalition for Kids’ Johnson City location is available to sign up for. The Bristol, Tennessee location has open spots available. Click on this link to sign up.