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100 Students Learn Life Skills Through G.R.E.A.T. Summer Camp
Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - 15:30
Approximately 100 elementary students from throughout Tulare County have completed a week long life skills development camp. The students attended the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) Summer Camp located near Quaking Aspen in the Sequoia National Forest.
The five day camp is repeated over a four week period with up to 25 students per week at no cost to the families. The youth that participate are fourth, fifth and sixth graders that have participated in the Tulare County Probation Department’s G.R.E.A.T. program during the school year. For many of the students, who come from extremely poor and rural communities, this is their first camping experience.
While at the camp students learn important life skills on topics including conflict resolution, leadership, cultural awareness and participate in team building activities. These lessons were reinforced through nature hikes and lessons about fire safety, wildlife awareness and the importance of forestry. The G.R.E.A.T. camp helps youth become good citizens and stewards of the environment.
In partnership with WildPlaces, an environmental stewardship organization based in Springville, youth pick up trash along the Trail of 100 Giants. The campers also assist WildPlaces in growing newly planted Giant Sequoia trees. Youth participants water the young trees and measure their growth rate.
“The G.R.E.A.T. camp is a wonderful life experience for the youth that participate,” said Raquel Gomez, CSET Assistant Director of Community Development. “The camp provides them with positive lessons they will utilize for the rest of their lives,” stated Gomez.
The G.R.E.A.T. camp activities and operations are run by two CSET Camp Directors. A Tulare County Probation department officer attends the camp and reinforces the G.R.E.A.T. lessons the youth learned during the year. The officer participates in every aspect of the camp with the youth. Additionally, youth from CSET’s Junior Leadership program assist as Junior Camp Counselors. Junior Leadership members are between 10 and 18 years old and participate in a yearlong curriculum where they learn communication skills, consensus building, and group facilitation, among others.
This is the fifth year students have gone to the camp. The G.R.E.A.T. camp is jointly funded by a contract between CSET and the Tulare County Probation Department and a grant from the United States Forest Service.
“We are honored to be involved with a program as successful as the G.R.E.A.T. Summer Camp,” stated Tulare County Probation Chief Janet Honadle. “Our officers continually praise the camp’s benefits and we appreciate the work CSET does with the youth,” said Honadle.