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Education / 2013

Camp Educates Kids Forever

Camp Educates Kids Forever

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Maker Challenge by City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks

The mission of the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks (RAP) is to enrich the lives of the residents of Los Angeles by providing safe, welcoming parks and recreation facilities and affordable, diverse recreation and human services activities for people of all ages to play, learn, contemplate, build community and be good stewards of our environment. We desire to provide day camp scholarships to over 1,000 youth ages 5 – 17, in the summer of 2013. From June 10, 2013 to August 9, 2013 over 75,000 youth will register at RAP summer camps that provide youth enrichment activities including but not limited to computer training classes, environmental awareness and education, mentoring, sports, team building, hands-on outdoor and camping activities, arts and crafts, aquatics, fishing, hiking, and life skills. RAP operates American Camping Association (ACA) accredited residential camps at Griffith Park Boys Camp and Camp Hollywoodland for Girls, both situated in one of the largest parks in North America. The majority of our summer day camps are located among our 184 recreation centers that dispersed over 457 square miles of the City of Los Angeles (City) Studies show all children lose ground academically during the summer, and the achievement gap is even more striking for low-income children (Cooper 1996). Richard Rothstein, former national education columnist for The New York Times, and now a research associate with the Economic Policy Institute, agrees "disadvantaged children get less educational support in summers and after school." His research confirms this differential "summer setback" occurs partly because middle-class children's learning is reinforced in the summer months — they read more, travel, and learn new social and emotional skills in camps and organized athletics" (Rothstein 2005). Day camp scholarships will help to close this gap by offering affordable Out of School Time (OST) enrichment programming to youth in Los Angeles during summer vacation months. RAP has over 100 years of programming experience and use models of informal learning opportunities that psychologists and academia are beginning to understand. It is no coincidence that the Latin word “campus” (field) reveals the link between school campuses and campsites. These two institutions not only share a common root, but together account for countless hours of engagement and influential experience for American children and adults (Ozier, 2010). Dr. Edmund Gordon, one of the founders of the Head Start Program contends supplemental educational experiences are vital to all children and are closely associated with "exposure to family and community-based activities and learning experiences that occur both in and out of school" (Gordon 2005).


What are some of your organization’s most important achievements to date?

RAP has provided quality recreational services to the residents of the City for over 100 years. This year, 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of RAP camping programs.

Annually, RAP serves several hundred thousand people including more than 1,000 youth daily in our after school programs, more than 60,000 youths in our sports leagues, and 75,000 in summer day camps. RAP has worked cooperatively with other City entities and outside agencies on numerous foundation, state, and federally funded grant programs with budgets ranging from approximately $5,000 to more than $15 million.

For the past five years RAP has partnered with the Mayor Villaraigosa’s Summer Night Lights (SNL), an anti-gang program that keeps parks open after dark with organized activities for at risk youth, and provides job opportunities and a safe place to spend the summer. By empowering communities and targeting the traditionally most-violent summer months, SNL has become a national model for violence reduction. Since 2008, SNL has expanded from 8 parks to 32 city parks, leading to a 57% reduction in gang-related homicides in SNL neighborhoods.

In 2011, RAP’s One Watt’s Program, a cluster of programs serving residents of the Nickerson Gardens, Jordan Downs and Imperial Courts housing developments and the 109th Street Recreation Center, became the first park program based in Los Angeles County to win the “Governors’ Council on Physical Fitness” gold medal since the competition was created in 2006. The Watt’s One Program was awarded for bridging communities through its innovative recreational programs that promote physical activity, fitness and well-being of California youth. Hundreds of boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 12 years participated in soccer, baseball, softball, basketball, and flag football programs in efforts to unite the Watts community.

Please identify any partners or collaborators who will work with you on this project.

Various RAP divisions, state, federal, and non-profit organizations collaborate to implement our summer day camp programs. RAP partners include: United States Department of Agriculture, State of California Department of Education, State of California Department of Justice, County of Los Angeles, National Recreation and Park Association, National Atmospheric Administration, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Wildlife Federation, California Recreation and Parks Society, American Camping Association, Montrose Settlements Restoration Program, RAP Park Rangers, RAP Aquatics Division, Forestry Division, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, Los Angeles Parks Foundation, and People for Parks.

Please explain how you will evaluate your project. How will you measure success?

The Program Director and Program Staff will conduct an internal evaluation of the program at the end of the summer to assess the effectiveness of the programs planned goals, objectives, and outcomes in order to maximize program performance. RAP will request feedback from parents, participants, and staff to assist in evaluating the program. A final report will be created to summarize the findings.

Goal: Provide 1,000 summer camp scholarships in 2013. Objective: RAP will use approved scholarship forms and attendance rosters to track the distribution of 1,000 scholarships for youth ages 5 – 17 years attending RAP summer camps in 2013. Scholarships will be awarded according to RAP policy and procedures until all scholarships have been awarded.

Goal: Provide Increased Out of School Time (OST) programming for youth in the summer of 2013. Objective: 1,000 participants who received summer camp scholarships will engage in a minimum of 30 hours of activity per week totaling 30,000 hours of OST programming.

How will your project benefit Los Angeles?

This scholarship program will allow more than 1,000 youth to attend summer camp in 2013, who otherwise would not have this opportunity. The impact will be realized throughout the City of Los Angeles, with the majority of scholarships being allocated among summer camps located at RAP recreation centers located within economically disadvantaged communities, and for youth to experience a week long overnight camp at one of our two residential camps. The 2005 and 2006 the American Community Survey revealed that 20% of the City met the Federal guidelines for poverty, with a 29% child poverty rate. Approximately 80% of Los Angeles Unified School District students qualify for free or reduced price meals. With over one third of the population of the City under the age of 18 (Census 2010), affordable out of school time programs that offer informal learning opportunities to keep youth engaged in summer vacation months with the goal of minimizing the summer learning gap.
The RAP summer day camp and residential camp programs provide a multitude of benefits by bridging social diversity within communities, providing an alternative to anti-social behavior, teaching community values and life skills, facilitating computer literacy, promoting environmental stewardship, advancing socialization skills and team building to teach conflict resolution and problem solving skills, while improving the health of youth by providing alternative physical activities and nutrition.

What would success look like in the year 2050 regarding your indicator?

In 2050 success will mean more Los Angeles students are graduating from high school, attending and graduating college, ready to enter the workforce to benefit Los Angeles. Public school systems will look continue work with public agencies and non-profit organizations to improve education.

Young people are our future business and public leaders of Los Angeles. They will pay taxes, raise families, and undertake volunteer and other community service activities. Out-of-school time (OST) settings are important venues for helping youth successfully navigate their adolescent years and develop the knowledge, values, attitudes, skills, and behaviors they will need to be fully functioning adults. In particular, there is strong evidence that OST activities and contexts are significant contributors to the promotion of youth development. The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks will continue to provide these resources to support recreational opportunities, programs, and services to facilitate OST activities. Municipal leaders already understand that OST programs are well-positioned to help the next generation develop a comprehensive set of 21st century skills that emphasize problem solving, collaboration, use of technology, and creative thinking.