This is one in a series of articles celebrating the 70th anniversary of SDCOE's 6th Grade Camp.
When the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District announced in 2009 that it would no longer sponsor 6th Grade Camp for its schools, one parent stepped up and volunteered to keep camp going as a non-school event during their spring break.
Jane Lindquist then had a daughter in 5th grade, who would have missed out on the week-long experience at Cuyamaca Outdoor School, a program offered through the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE).
Lindquist herself attended 6th Grade Camp in the 1970s. Her son, who was three years older than her daughter, had attended camp.
"When you think of kids not having the 6th Grade Camp experience, it's huge," Lindquist said. "A week at camp where they're maturing, they're having to participate in clean-up in cabins, they serve each other at lunch. Like when you go to someone else's home, you have a different appreciation for your own place.”
But organizing the optional experience for students at all 17 La Mesa-Spring Valley schools during their spring break?
"The first time you do all that work, there is a learning curve, but then it's in motion, it's set. I had the opportunity to do it, so I did it. Each year, I said, ‘Can I do it again?’ and I could," Lindquist said.
Lindquist managed the 6th Grade Camp visits for the La-Mesa Spring Valley School District students for five years, ending with the maximum number of students – 432 – at Cuyamaca Outdoor School. She then passed on the volunteer project to other parents, and now serves on the board of the Outdoor Education Foundation.
Her story proves that parents can save – or start – 6th Grade Camp trips at their schools during the regular school year through a few important steps:
Do your research. The San Diego County Office of Education's Outdoor Education division has details on the benefits of 6th Grade Camp, the cost per student, informational videos, fliers, and more for both parents and educators. Check out the website.
Get buy-in at your school from teachers, parents, students, and, most importantly, your principal.
Call Cuyamaca Outdoor School Principal Greg Schuett to discuss next steps, which will include submitting an online application, determining camp costs, scheduling a date, securing busing, setting up a fundraising committee, and more.
Inspired to get your students to 6th Grade Camp? A few weeks are still available for the 2016-17 school year, depending on your school enrollment. Currently, space is filled for non-school-sponsored camp visits during spring break. Contact Cuyamaca Outdoor School at 760-765-3000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.