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JCCS, Cuyamaca Outdoor School Collaborate to Give Students Camp Experience

Students at four Juvenile Court and Community Schools (JCCS) will have the opportunity this month to connect with nature and learn through hands-on experiences as part of a day-trip adventure to Cuyamaca Outdoor School.

The idea to bring JCCS students to the home of 6th Grade Camp came up as the principals at the various schools worked together at the Futuro Brillante program that educated children at the convention center.

"They had the opportunity to see some of the amazing Cuyamaca staff in action working with our children who arrived here as unaccompanied minors," said Kris Pamintuan, principal at Cuyamaca Outdoor School. "We got to talking, and the subject of bringing students in our JCCS programs to Cuyamaca came up. We all agreed it would be an amazing experience."

Though the JCCS students are older than the typical camp participants, the two teams realized that the lessons and experiences would be interesting and helpful for the older students as well. The partnership ties in with the San Diego County Office of Education's (SDCOE) equity work and Board Goal 2: Provide educational opportunities and supports to SDCOE schools and school districts so that all students, including our historically underserved students, are successful.

"As part of our Local Control and Accountability Plan, students and parents have express interest in having access to outdoor activities," said Oscar Felix, principal of the JCCS North Region. "Having our schools partner with Camp Cuyamaca was a perfect and natural fit. Our students are excited about having their classrooms be the outdoors and breathing the fresh air nature provides."

The plan is to bring groups of 30 or 40 students in September for all-day adventures that will include hikes, guided team-building activities, and science lessons. JCCS staff members will accompany the students for social support, and SDCOE's COVID-19 mitigation measures will be followed.

"We're really super excited to see everyone come together like this," said Bruce Petersen, executive director for Student Services and Programs. "It's such a beneficial and impactful collaboration."

The single-day adventures are expected to be a prelude to reopening Cuyamaca Outdoor School when public health conditions allow. About 10,000 students from across San Diego and Orange counties are signed up for the camp experience for the 2021-22 school year. Though plans to open for week-long in-person experiences have been delayed, the staff at camp have offered schools the option to instead have a virtual experience coupled with a school visit and a single-day adventure at camp. 

When it reopens, the program will be following state safety guidance for overnight camps, and there will be many safety precautions in place, including reducing the number of students on site each week, upgrading air purifiers, changing eating arrangements, and testing students for COVID-19.

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