October 9, 2016

Los Altos Ministry News

CSULB Science Camp – Supported by Alternative Christmas Market

For the past 17 years I have run a hands-on science camp for area youth. The camp, hosted at CSULB, expanded nine years ago to include children from Long Beach Unified School District who experience homelessness. School counselors help us recruit eligible students who then apply to the camp.

Kids are picked up by school bus and brought to camp. They engage in exciting hands-on science and engineering lessons. They spend 4.5 hours with us before returning by bus to their families. While at camp the children receive a snack and school lunch.

Data shows us that 5-10% of children in a school district are homeless. It is hard to fathom the fact that so many children are unsure of their housing or next meal. Kids experiencing homelessness are more likely to change schools, more likely to be behind academically (each time you change schools you lose ground), and less likely to be able to take advantage of academic enrichment programs. By offering this sort of program, we are engaging students during the summer, helping them get excited about science and engineering, and showing them what a college campus is like.

This summer our kindergarten and first graders explored toys and engineered better toys in the Engineers ‘R Us program. 2nd - 4 th graders were Crafty Chemists, as they explored the overlap between science and art. Our 5th – 8 th graders were environmental detectives in the Water is Life team as they studied habitats, ecosystems and water issues in California. Campers explored various places on campus with an eye towards science and engineering. Our Engineers ‘R Us got to see how the back of the bowling alley works while the middle school group tested water samples from the Miller Japanese Gardens.

The camp is supported by grants and donations and is offered to children and their families at no cost. If we take one child from a family we take all the grade K-8 kids in the family.

Members of LAUMC donated more than $1,000 to support the camp last year! Most of you did that through contributions at our Alternative Christmas Market; some of you made individual contributions. On behalf of the children who got to participate in the camp and the CSULB students who helped teach the camp, THANK YOU! It was an exciting summer.

Laura Henriques Colburn

Besides me, there are other LAUMC connections to the camp. Debbie Drab and former member Meredith Casalino have both taught in the camp – Debbie for more than 12 years!