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The Lompoc Family YMCA has revamped its Junior High and Challengers summer camps with new events and activities aimed at encouraging college and career readiness.

The Challengers Camp, which is open to children ages 10 to 12, and the Junior High Camp, for ages 12 to 13, will now provide lessons for the campers to write and publish their own books, draw graphic novels and be news anchors for the camp. Additionally, the YMCA will host events through which campers can meet professionals in their community and go on field trips to colleges.

Registration is open for the camps, which will begin June 11 and run through Aug. 10. They will be in session from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays at La Cañada Elementary School. One week of camp is $138 for facility members and $148 for program members.

“We’re always thinking and creating ways to improve our camps,” said Claudia Quezada-Rocha, the Lompoc Family YMCA’s youth director. “Our first priority is to create an environment for children in the community to grow and prosper. This year, we designed a camp to show our older campers that they can do whatever they set their minds to, that they can choose their own adventure in life, (and) more than that, we wanted to show them how to do it.”

Membership information is available at www.ciymca.org/lompoc/try-the-y/membership-pricing-and-benefits/. Financial assistance is available for those who qualify.

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Here’s a look at some of the programs being offered:

  • Kids can write and publish their own books: Campers will work in groups of five to craft their own books throughout the summer. Lompoc Family YMCA provides lesson plans and materials from WRiTE BRAiN to aid them in the writing process. WRiTE BRAiN materials will include a booklet in which campers can write a story next to an illustration. When they are finished, the books will be published. At the end of summer, the young writers have the opportunity to present their books in the Young Author’s Showcase on Aug. 8.
  • The Graphic Novel Club: The Lompoc Public Library will teach a 30-minute lesson at camp about how to make a graphic novel. Students will be able to create mini-comics using templates, pencils and pens, clip art and magazine cutouts.
  • Camp news anchors: Every two weeks, campers will create a news video about camp to show to their parents. Campers will be in charge of filming and editing the news video using an iPad and iMovie software. Counselors will guide the campers through the filming and editing processes.
  • Meeting professionals: The Lompoc Library will host Skype meetings between campers and authors on June 26, July 17 and Aug. 7. The week prior, the YMCA will give each camper a book by the author to read. One of the scheduled authors is Cathy Camper, who wrote "Lowriders in Space."
  • Career day: The camp will hold a career day July 12 when campers can learn more about available careers and meet with career professionals. The police and fire departments are scheduled to visit the camp July 6. Representatives from banking, law enforcement, medicine, the military, and engineering will visit the camp throughout the summer to talk with campers.
  • College visits: Campers will visit UCSB and Hancock College on June 13 and Aug. 2, respectively.
  • Kinder Camp: This year, Kinder Camp will place more emphasis on getting children prepared for kindergarten with lesson plans and activities. Campers between the ages of 4 and 5 years old will learn about colors, letter names and sounds, shapes, sight words and number identification, among other skills. Other activities will include arts and crafts and field trips to local destinations like La Purisima Mission.

“We want to focus on providing growth and learning opportunities to even our youngest campers,” Quezada-Rocha said. “The academic and social lessons learned in Kinder Camp will help students smoothly transition into a year of firsts that may otherwise be stressful. Having a solid foundation of knowledge will give students the confidence to pursue their goals in and outside of the classroom as they begin their academic journeys.”

For more information, or to register for the camps, parents can contact the Lompoc Family YMCA at 736-3483 or visit www.ciymca.org/Lompoc/activities/summer-camp.

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This report was prepared by Willis Jacobson. He can be reached at wjacobson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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