Why do you need to create a new database? Why not just keep using the current database file?
If you save a copy of the database you get a copy with all the data still intact unless you use the "clone" option to get an empty file.
Import records can be used to import data from tables in one file into tables in another so if you want to set up a new copy of the file with some tables empty and others populated with existing data, you can save a clone of the file and then use import records to import data from selected tables.
But I don't see a reason to do any of this.
We need to create a new database because we have new information that we input every year. We have a summer program and we have new participants every year.
Yes, but that should not require that you discard any data from the previous year.
But if you insist, you can copy your database file, go to a layout for participants and delete all records to produce a copy that has all data except the records in the participants table.
I think the easiest way would be to save a cloned copy with no records
File » Save Copy As . . . » clone (no records)
This way your original could be the archive copy for the previous year.