The Davis Summer Bridge Youth Camp is kicking off its first year by offering youngsters from Marguerite Montgomery Elementary four weeks of learning and fun. More than 40 students are participating in the camp this summer with several more junior camp counselors, educators and volunteers providing support.
The camp is a summer extension of the Davis Bridge program active during the school year. Since 2003, the Davis Bridge Educational Foundation has been dedicated to improving the academic achievement of low-income Davis students.
“The Summer Bridge Youth Camp acts as a resource to extend education and experiences to our students who might not otherwise be given this opportunity,” said camp director Jeannie Pytel. The summer camp provides students with professional tutoring, along with lessons in swimming, fine arts, sports, and community involvement as well.
To learn about food, the campers went on a field trip to Downtown Davis. Their trip featured behind-the-scenes tours of Woodstock’s Pizza and Whole Foods and was capped off with a scavenger hunt.
They began their day at school and prepared themselves with healthy snacks and water. After saying good-bye to their parents, the group made its exodus out of the school to ride a Unitrans bus downtown.
“Guys, we made it alive!” exclaimed Yahir Datino, 11, as the group flooded off of the bus.
With limbs loose and ready for adventure, the campers began the first leg of their trip. The group split in two; the younger students left for Whole Foods, while the older students went to Woodstock’s Pizza.
At Woodstock’s, the students learned how pizzas are made. The campers were especially captivated by how the cooks made the dough. The best part of the tour, to many, was making custom pizzas.
“I put pepperoni, bacon, salami, tomato and olive on my pizza … eating was fun,” said Valerie Burciaga, 12.
At Whole Foods, the students met a variety of employees as they toured the grocery store. Their guide, marketing team leader Kristen Tantarelli, showed the kids healthy food alternatives and explained how food makes its journey onto the shelf. Aggie burgers and maple-bacon cupcakes, both unique to the Davis store, mesmerized the students.
“Why do we call it ‘Whole Foods’?” and “Where do we get it from?” were among the many questions that the students had for their guide.
After the tour of Whole Foods, the campers enjoyed a garden barbecue behind the store. At the end of their meal, the students decorated their own cupcakes with various decorations and colors provided to them by Whole Foods.
Next, the campers formed into teams for the final stretch of their adventure: the scavenger hunt. Teams with names such as ” The Blue Devils” and “Team Insect-a-saurus” tore across Downtown Davis to collect items from various local businesses. The campers visited businesses such as Taqueria El Burrito, Amtrak and Regal Cinemas.
“Hurry! The other team is coming!” yelled Bridget Toledo, 10, as her team asked for a police officer’s business card for their list. The teams eventually made their way back to the bus stop, but not before each team stacked into a “human pyramid” and took a picture — one of the final scavenger hunt items.
The Davis Summer Bridge Youth Camp hopes that in future years, alumni of the camp will return as counselors to pass on the lessons they learned from the program.
Davis Bridge alumni, Yanely Herrera, 15, is already doing just that. Herrera is one of the Junior Camp Counselors volunteering with the summer camp. Herrera detailed that she participated in the Davis Bridge program when she was in elementary school, and now that her brother, Andres Herrera, is in the program, she was asked to volunteer.
“I don’t mind doing this over the summer,” she said. “Because when I grow up, I want to be a teacher.”
The youth camp is supported and made possible by its sponsors Davis Rebekah Lodge, Davis Art Center, Woodstock’s Pizza, Swim America, ASUCD Unitrans, Davis Police Officer Association, FINIS, UCD Bohart Museum, Davis Police Department, DJUSD, Davis Odd Fellows Lodge, Davis Encampment, Yolo Family Resource Center and Ink Monkey.
Pytel added: “This has truly been a Davis community partnership.”