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Fun Daze in Yuba City
Parks and Rec offers summer day camp programs
Noah Hurtado, 9: "The bowling alley and Sky High."
Zai'Ann Ray, 8: "I like all the fun activities like jump houses and obstacle courses."
Steven Cramer, 11: "I liked going to Bounce U, and I like playing games like dodgeball."
Brenna Briscoe, 12: "I like the field trips and little excursions we do."
Chase Serrano, 7: "The bowling alley."
It was no ordinary day for the Yuba City Parks and Recreation Fun Daze Summer Camp program.
The program, which began June 5 for children ages 5-13 at Gray Avenue School, celebrated its last official day of camp with bowling, a pizza party, park play and swimming. Campers were surprised by camp staff with Silly String before an afternoon of play at Sam Brannan Park in Yuba City.
The nine-week program incorporated activities, field trips and sports, such as swimming and rock climbing, into its weekly schedule. Campers have the option to choose a half-day or full-day schedule, one to five days per week, to suit their needs.
Morning lead staffer Jamie Mackey began each day at 7 a.m.; afternoon leads Jennifer Quintanilla and TJ Clair took turns working with the children until 6 p.m.
"It's a good program for the kids. There are lots of working families in our area that don't have family or child care during the summer. We provide a safe, fun way to keep the kids busy," said Quintanilla, who has worked four years for the summer camp.
On Tuesdays, campers walked to Cinemark Yuba City; and on Fridays, the students bowled at Nu Generation Lanes. Each Wednesday, campers went on field trips to various locations, such as Bounce U in Roseville and Cal Skate in Chico. Four afternoons a week, the children swam at Gauche Aquatic Park.
"I've been working for parks and rec for 10 years and working summer camp for eight years. My full-time job is working at the school district, so I get bored in the summer without the kids. I have seen kids that come back every year. With all the great activities, how can you not love to come back?" Mackey said. "All our kids are really good."
Mackey's reason for working at the camp each summer is a common one among many of the staffers. Quintanilla and staff member Kaleb George both work with children during the school year, and say they work at the summer camp because they "love the kids."
George, who teaches Sutter County special education students, said, "I get paid to play. It's my vacation, and I get to stay with kids."
Six-year-old Kiera Galyean and 5-year-old Kyndalina Beal are best friends who attended the summer camp together after completing their kindergarten year at Lincrest Elementary in Yuba City.
Kiera likes to come to camp with Kyndalina because "we eat together and we swim together." Kyndalina added, "And we play together and we color together."
Mackey said of the two friends, "They're so cute. They hold hands at the park and they skip away together."
"The mission statement for our department is to enhance the quality of life," said Rachel Kinsel, recreation supervisor for Yuba City Parks and Recreation. "This camp gives kids the opportunity to enjoy summer through various activities while being active, and through this program, I believe we've met our mission statement.
"We are averaging 70 to 90 kids a week; that's the highest number we've had in the last four years," she added.
Kinsel said she is pleased with the mutual access that parks and recreation shares with Gray Avenue School and Yuba City Unified School District. "We work closely together. We couldn't do it without them, so it works out well," she said.
Many summer camp staff started as campers in the program. Kinsel said one or two staffers every year went through the program as a child. The program has a junior recreational leader program for kids ages 14-15 who wish to intern. Once those students turn 16, they can apply to be hired as a regular staff member.
Junior leader Christina Hong, 15, was a camper for eight years and has been a junior leader for two years. She plans to apply for a staff position next year. "I like the kids, the little ones especially, and the field trips, of course," she said.
Other summer programs offered by Yuba City Parks and Recreation included Jedi Lego camps, an acting camp, a gymnastics camp and an archery camp, as well as classes and open swim time at GAP.
Swim times at GAP and an archery class through Yuba City Kuk Sool Won remain available through August. For more information, go online to yubacity.net/parks-recreation or call 822-4650.