Funds for Summer Day Camp in Monrovia

For over a decade, Monrovia's Summer Extravaganza Program has been providing a free summer day camp. It annually serves 400 children from ages six to sixteen whose families could not otherwise afford it. The program is funded with HUD Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), City and private monies. The City of Monrovia, California receives its CDBG funds through Los Angeles County.

The City program is done with the Boys and Girls Club, the YMCA and the local school district. Director April Soash explains that these partnerships allow the City to provide a well-balanced program. The day camp offers a variety of activities including: sports, arts and crafts, movies, nature activities, swimming, drama, dancing and fields trips. Each week the children have different activities.

One annual trip is going to the beach. Coordinator Frank Tullo said, "It may seem unbelievable that children living in Southern California haven't been to the ocean, but these children are from very modest means. Parents are often busy working. They don't have a lot of leisure time or the means to take the children many places. This program provides opportunities to kids that they would not otherwise have, such as going to the museum. But more importantly, the program gives the youth positive role models and tools for team building and resolving conflicts. It is very rewarding."

Soash says, "The program exposes children to positive role models. Building a child's self esteem is one of the core values. It is important to catch a child doing something positive rather than disciplining them for poor behavior. Often a child misbehaves for attention. Let's give them attention for good behavior. Success shows in the faces of children who return summer after summer. Then some grow up and become Recreation Leaders themselves."

Ashley Spicer, a 22-year old college student, is one of these people. During summer vacation, she would stay home and watch television with a babysitter. She heard about the program from her 11-year old friends. She was then able to convince her mom to sign her up. Four years later, Program Coordinator Kerri Zessau saw her potential and Ashley began assisting the recreation leaders. Now Ashley oversees the daily program operations, working more with the staff than directly with the children.

For more information about this program, you may contact Dan McConnell at (626) 932-5504.


Content Archived: September 11, 2015