Youth Program camps provide students with closer bond to Davis community
After the final class is let out and students make their way off campus to their summer plans, UC Davis becomes a land devoid of the mass of undergraduate and graduate Aggies. According to
Bekah Weimer, a third-year psychology major and camp counselor, the environment downtown and on campus changes because of the few students still in town.
“During the summer the campus is very dead,” Weimer said. “There is not as many people so we really didn’t see many college students around as much. It’s a weird Davis, [the vibe] definitely changes. It seems more of a family town more than a college town during the summer.”
Davis having a different vibe is not necessarily a negative. For 10 weeks over the summer, UC Davis Youth Programs, a student-run summer camp for kids, takes place on the UC Davis campus. There are many different specialty themed and general camps, attracting kids of all ages. According to Erin Cloughesy, a fourth-year cognitive science major and a specialty camp manager, many of those enrolled in Youth Programs are children of professors or international graduate students.
While their parents are on campus working, researching or studying, the kids get to enjoy parts of campus during the day.
“It’s a pretty popular camp,” Cloughesy said. “There are a lot of parents who are both working or the parents are going to school so they drop their kids off at camp. There is just a bunch of different general camp activities.”
When most of the students are gone, the campus no longer feels like a bustling, studying zone. Instead, the campus feels more laid-back, a place for kids and counselors to have fun.
“[The camp] is a lot of fun,” Cloughesy said. “You’re with 40 other people and you end up getting pretty close to a majority of them because you spend time outside of camp together because there is not that many other people in Davis, […] you do a lot of fun things during the day.”
Meghan Nevarez, a fourth-year sociology and Spanish double major, and a staff member of Youth Programs, finds the energy the staff brings is an important aspect that makes Youth Programs unique from other summer programs in the area.
“The staff are super awesome,” Nevarez said. “Everyone on staff are students and they are all super passionate about their jobs.”
Cloughesy finds Youth Programs runs so well because of the staff that puts the camps on.
“I haven’t had a year where it isn’t 40 great people who want to spend their summer with kids, who bring new ideas and always have positive attitudes,” Cloughesy said. “I think that’s what makes our [camp] unique enough because it’s completely student run in that there’s a sense of professionalism but also a group of young people who have a lot of energy.”
While the majority of UC Davis students are home enjoying their time off, kids enrolled in camp use the recreational facilities the campus has to offer. According to Cloughesy, the camps not only bring kids on to the UC Davis campus but they also bring the camp counselors closer within the Davis community.
“A good chunk of kids are just repeat kids that come all 10 weeks,” Cloughesy said. “You also get to know the parents really well, and it also connects you to the community of Davis because you’ll meet Davis residents and you’ll meet people that you wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet without the camp.”
According to Weimer, working with children gives the staff a different perspective on life.
“Working with the kids, I mean, it kind of puts your priorities into perspective because they’re more interested in ‘am I going to get an otter pop today’ rather than worrying about school,” Weimer said. “I really liked being in that environment of kids and you know just having fun […] was their main priority. It’s a nice world to go into when you’re so stressed out about school.”
Youth Program camps not only provide counselors with a fresh perspective of Davis and a closer bond with the community, but Nevarez also finds that, overall, it is a highly rewarding experience.
“The most rewarding part about working with the camp is seeing the kids grow and seeing them really break out of their shells,” Nevarez said, “Seeing how some kids are super shy or super nervous or cry on the first day or kids who are on the first day they just want to go home and seeing throughout the week. Just seeing how they start to get comfortable and really just start to have a lot of fun — that’s the thing that’s the most rewarding for me.”
Written by: Elizabeth Marin — email@example.com