Two teams at the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE) recently worked together to double the number of students who attended a summertime science program at Camp Palomar. The North County site maintained by SDCOE was once used for 6th Grade Camp and is now used mostly for event rentals.
"These kids don't often get the opportunity to experience being in the wilderness, never mind attending science camp or even being away from home," explained Migrant Education Program Advocate Carmela Vasquez.
The problem was, due to the cost, only about 90 students were able to participate in the program each year.
Bob Mueller, executive director of Outdoor Education, said "it didn't make sense that we were trying to make a profit" on the cost of renting out camp, since "this is an SDCOE program and these are our students." In keeping with our board goals, Outdoor Education charged only enough to cover the cost of staffing and operating camp.
"That was significant enough that we could host students for two weeks instead of just one," continued Mueller. "We were able to provide access that these children wouldn't normally have."
Ninety students stayed at Camp Palomar during the first week of July and an additional 96 attended camp later that month.
Every child benefits from opportunities to build self-confidence, collaboration, leadership, and problem-solving skills. For the children of migrant workers, those opportunities may be even more valuable.
At Palomar, the students were immersed in nature, learning science concepts, working on writing and language development, engaging in art and music, and developing their sense of self.
Here's what some Vista Unified School District students in the Migrant Education program had to say about attending Camp Palomar this summer.
"What I enjoyed the most about Camp Palomar was the campfire. We all sang a song and we all happily participated. We had so much fun. I liked the fact that we all participated and we got to meet new people."
— Geovani Hernandez, Madison Middle School
"It was fun! I got to meet a lot of new people and had very nice conversations with them. I still have contact with them and we would like to be part of it next summer if we are able to."
— Brandon Morales, Guajome Park Academy