Don’t be surprised – little munchkins dressed in green are taking over the UC Davis campus, at least for the summer. At the Activities and Recreation Center, kids in face paint are as prominent as weightlifters pumping iron.
As UCD students are cramming for summer school midterms on the Quad, they may stumble across little campers in single file, stretched a block long as they herd into Hart Hall for movie time – Disney flicks often win out.
Campus Recreation’s Summer Youth Programs are making use of the quieter campus during the scorching summer at UC Davis.
The programs began in mid-June and are divided in weeklong intervals; some will last into the end of August.
The children, ranging from kindergarteners to 12th graders, take part in weeklong programs including sports and art projects. The youth, wearing their distinct green T-shirts, have the opportunity to learn to ride a horse, swim, even have fun face painting.
“We have 170 kids a week,” said Holly Bates, the youth programs coordinator of the Department of Campus Recreation. “Our programs are very fun for kids and all the counselors are [UC] Davis students.”
UCD undergraduates, who also stand out in a crowd with their turquoise T-shirts, applied for camp counselor positions during winter quarter. Though some had options for other summer jobs, several of the camp counselors really wanted to work with children. They cited their own happy memories going to camp and growing up as kids.
Chris Maccarone, a junior English major, remembers his own childhood fondly, which led him to become a camp counselor at Camp Adventure.
Maccarone said he remembers his youth as “good years of my life.”
He is enthusiastic about working with kids.
“These kids are fascinating and smarter than others may think,” he said.
Maccarone’s role varied throughout the day. During lunch, he talked about Pokémon cards to one of the youngsters, while keeping an eye on the rest of his campers.
The recent spate of fires in Northern California led to poor air quality, forcing the campers to picnic inside the ARC. However, the youngsters did not seem to mind. A slew of Lunchables, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Capri Sun pouches dotted the indoor soccer facility.
The campers munched and punted volleyballs all around while the counselors took a moment to breathe. There was not much time to relax for veteran camp counselor Diana Gonzalez, a human development major who just graduated this year.
Sprawled on a plastic chair, she was explaining to campers the sudden change of plans as a result of the fires.
A moment later, she was up on her feet with a first aid kit in hand. One of her campers had a boo-boo and she quickly patched it up with a Band-Aid.
Gonzalez said she enjoys being around the fresh energy of her youngsters and already plans to get a teaching credential in the near future. She said the camp helps her put what she learns in class to practical use.
“I did it last year and I really got to know some of the kids,” Gonzalez said. “Everything I learned in the books I can apply. I connect my book learning, and future [career] into this job here.”
JACKSON YAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.