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A summer boost for kids

Free camp hosted by charter school parents aims to help disadvantaged youth escape the 'summer slide'

Fighting off the summer brain drain can be tough for families that can't afford expensive summer camps, but two parents from Bullis Charter School are looking to turn that around with a free summer camp for at-risk elementary school kids in the community.

Bullis Boosters Summer Bridge Camp is a free, week-long day camp for disadvantaged youth in the Mountain View and Los Altos communities. Hosted at the Bullis Charter School campus, it runs through the week of July 28 and has 50 campers going into second, third and fourth grades this year -- nearly double last year's number -- including kids from free and reduced lunch programs and families that rely on food assistance from the Community Services Agency.

On Tuesday, dozens of kids donning yellow camp T-shirts crowded around tables full of brown sugar, carrots and eggs for a muffin-making activity.

"This is the first time cooking for some of these kids," said Martha McClatchie, one of the two camp directors.

Before the campers make muffins, they have an indoor lesson about how to measure ingredients, and the difference between teaspoons, tablespoons and cups. Parents take home the batter and bake the muffins overnight, and kids can see their results the next day. Depending on how things go, kids might get their muffins back a little deflated, or the carrots might be too chunky, but McClatchie said kids are proud to bring their muffins home to show off to their families.

The camp has a broad curriculum that goes well beyond muffin-making, covering math, science and literature. On Monday, volunteers from Explorabox, a nonprofit science education group, came in to teach kids about electricity in a program called "Watt's up with electricity?" In one activity, the campers rub balloons against a carpeted surface and hold them above their head to watch how static electricity pulls their hair skyward.

The kids were also taught about motors, solar energy, and mechanisms like the Van de Graaff generator -- not a light curriculum. McClatchie said her hope is that through these lessons, some of the information will stick.

"They might hear about the Van de Graaff generator and say, 'Hey, I know what that is,'" she said.

McClatchie, along with Grace Yang, started the camp last year to provide a summer camp option for disadvantaged youth -- specifically English language learners -- in the community. McClatchie said kids learning English lose a lot of progress during the summer months, especially in homes where English is not commonly spoken. Camp counselors read out loud to groups of students, which McClatchie said helps avoid what she calls the "summer slide" for those students.

She said they coordinated with Craig Goldman, superintendent of the Mountain View Whisman School District, to reach out to at-risk children who could use the free summer camp the most. She said a number of kids were referred to them from Beyond the Bell -- an after-school program that provides help with homework and academic activities. About 70 percent of the campers are from Mountain View.

Teachers from Castro Elementary School and Bullis Charter School donate their time to teach classes at the camp, along with 16 counselors from nearby middle and high schools, according to Yang. The camp also has a number of Spanish translators on-site, specifically when kids are being picked up or dropped off so they can communicate with parents, family members and caregivers.

Local food vendors also donate free lunch and snacks for the camp, including Whole Foods, The Counter, Spot Pizza, ChoiceLunch and Smitten Ice Cream. On Tuesday, the camp took a field trip to Smitten to learn how ice cream can be made very cold using liquid nitrogen.

Along with food vendors, a number of other groups have supported the program through whatever services they can provide. Educacy, a nonprofit education advocacy group, has been a fiscal sponsor and KidzJet, a transportation company, provided the camp with a good deal on vans to transport the campers.

McClatchie said all these groups have come together to help make the camp a fun and meaningful experience for kids who wouldn't normally have access to summer camps.

"There's a lot of people who understand that this is an important thing to do,"

Comments

 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lee
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jul 31, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Lee is a registered user.

Great Camp. Keep up the good work. It would be great if LASD could start offering a head start program that would help these kids before they get to school. Kuodos to the BCS parents creating this camp.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 31, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Lee: see here regarding a well established LASD summer program:

Web Link

Hint: use the Google before posting BCS babble...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lee
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jul 31, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Lee is a registered user.

I think that might be a bit different from this program. This program seems more like a camp. The program that you are linking to is summer school. A program that the state funds is and is offered by most districts.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 31, 2014 at 4:17 pm

Don't "think", Lee, before you post. "Know".


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lee
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jul 31, 2014 at 4:27 pm

Lee is a registered user.

I know that the two programs are very different. I was trying to be polite. I won't make that mistake next time Tom.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dan
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 31, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Woohoo Dogie. That LASD summer schools looks like it is "So much fun"!

from the link that Tom so generously provided:

Students who will qualify for the 2014 Summer Academy must meet one of the following criteria:
Grades 1-2 – Students who are significantly below grade level and are at risk of retention

Grades 3-5 – Students who scored basic, below basic, or far below basic on the ELA or Math portion of the 2012 STAR test and are not meeting grade level standards in reading or math.

Grades K-6 – English Learner students with a CELDT score of beginner or intermediate

Self-contained classes receive daily Computer Lab and PE classes, and students benefit from small group instruction. Teachers use Options Best Practices in Reading, while Investigations, is the foundation for math instruction. Writing is based on the Step Up to Writing program. Orchard Now, a skills-based program that targets the three core areas, is used in the Computer Lab.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 31, 2014 at 4:53 pm

This is a great camp being offered by the volunteers at BCS. It is a week-long, limited to kids entering grades 2 through 4. Yes, kudos to the parents.

The only reason I post is to respond to Lee's apparent ignorance of the 4-week comprehensive summer program offered by LASD. I am not into this BCS-LASD feud BS. Our kids are more important than that. If I had an at-risk kid, I would have put him in both the LASD and this camp described in the article.

Dan: this is not an issue to joke about.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dan
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 31, 2014 at 5:04 pm

That program looks like it LASD operations as usual as in: teach to the test, teach to test. bubble bubble toil and trouble and all of that rot.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Lee
a resident of St. Francis Acres
on Jul 31, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Lee is a registered user.

Tom you were a bit hostile in your first post, and again to me. If you want to be treated seriously then think before your post. Sure Dan's humor is a bit out of place, but so are you.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 31, 2014 at 5:19 pm

Really? A post criticizing an educational program containing at least 3 grammatical errors? Perhaps you should have 'toiled' a bit more in school yourself, Dan-O.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dan
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 31, 2014 at 5:29 pm

Got nothing better to do Tom? Just trying to be quick ( I do have better things to do) - sorry if your rather delicate sensibilities were offended. Keep up the good work, LASD will need an entire army of Toms if they are going to get this turkey of a bond passed. Good luck with that.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Tom
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jul 31, 2014 at 5:57 pm

This article and thread concerns summer school options for disadvantaged kids in the area.

Dan, you need to learn to proofread and to stay on-topic.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dan
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jul 31, 2014 at 6:08 pm

Anything to do LASD messing up and being defended is fair game. That is the way it works, at least with me. You are in fact the one trying to get in the digs here. I believe you started it with something about Google before the BCS Babble. Sometimes bad things happen when you start flinging insults. Even something you hold dear, like LASD PR, might take a hit. So sorry.


Although I think it was really funny that you posted that link - anyone who is still thinking for themselves - I know you are out there- would look at that page and say okay , ho hum, LASD has a remedial summer program, just like every other school district in are area. Not really that interesting.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by teacher
a resident of Castro City
on Jul 31, 2014 at 7:59 pm

The Bullis summer camp is not summer school. It is an opportunity for students who don't normally get to go to summer camp to have that experience, but with a focus on reading, writing, math, and science. As one camper put it last year, "This is the funniest summer school ever!" The idea is to give these kids exposure to things they might not otherwise experience over the summer and to jump start their school year.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by John
a resident of The Crossings
on Jul 31, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Let's give Martha McClathcie and Grace Yang big pats on the back for a great endeavor. It's a testament to passionate parent volunteers, what can be accomplished at the grass roots level (without politics, without bureaucracy, without public funding). To the haters commenting above, you're going to give yourself a brain aneurysm trying to make this some LASD vs BCS thing.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dan
a resident of another community
on Aug 3, 2014 at 10:57 pm

Kudos to the BCS Boosters. Very different from their counterparts in LASD. Some LASD PTA members founded and lead the charge against BCS. They even supported and encouraged the very punitive behavior of the LASD board. Hope that will stop now, PTA's are supposed to support education, not try and destroy schools.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Another point
a resident of another community
on Aug 3, 2014 at 11:40 pm

This program is a fun but educational summer camp lasting just for 1 week. The LASD program is the dreaded summer school remedial program of yesteryear. What I would like to see LASD do is to provide subsidies on all of their after school programs for the low income kids. The Y programs do this but I don't think the others do. These fun after school programs can also be educational for low income kids, and help equalize environmental differences between their lives and those of the well off LASD families.

Then there is the issue of preschool which Mountain View Whisman offers at low or no cost to its high needs students. The MVWSD preschool program is actually available to any resident of zip codes 94040 and 94043 so it could be used by the high needs LASD kids if they happen to live in Mountain View, which is about 1/2 the LASD low income kids. But why the heck doesn't LASD offer a similar preschool program to its low income kids? It only has 20-30 such kids of preschool age each year, but isn't that more of a reason to offer a program? It would be very low cost compared to what MVWSD has to spend. And unlike MVWSD, LASD allows all these high-cost private preschools to operate at 4 of its campuses. Shouldn't they offer 1 preschool class for their own low income high needs kids, or work that into the program requirements for the private preschools?

Perhaps if they hadn't prohibited BCS from operating a preschool as part of an after school program (same facilities at different times), then BCS could operate the high needs preschool for all the LASD schools. But instead of asking for this (which would not conflict with charter laws), LASD made an absolute prohibition on BCS operating a preschool program. Tsk Tsk.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sparty
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2014 at 9:37 am

Sparty is a registered user.

"That program looks like it LASD operations as usual as in: teach to the test, teach to test. bubble bubble toil and trouble and all of that rot. "

Perfect. They'll be well prepared for college then


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dan
a resident of Waverly Park
on Aug 4, 2014 at 10:38 am

Sparty you must be a true LASD forelock tugger. No imagination needed or used in LASD schools. Lesson plans come from above and must be followed by every LASD teacher. It's all about test prep. Super boring.

Don't know where you went college or what you majored in but I doubt that doing well filling in bubbles is a required for most majors.

Oh and let's be clear - BCS still does better on the tests than does LASD even with out the focus on bubbling.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dan is (not) the man...
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 4, 2014 at 11:12 am

@Dan -- you really seem to like the somewhat obscure and outdated "forelock tugging" expression. You're certainly using it a lot. So how exactly do you know so much about "boring", "no imagination needed", "teaching to the test" curriculum at LASD? Did you actually have kids attend one of the LASD schools? Are your kids so off-the-charts brilliant that the LASD model was just too boring for words? Or did you just buy the BCS marketing spin?

If LASD is so god-awful, then why do most LASD students g on to do well in the MVLA high schools, and why are admission rates to top colleges from MVLA so high? If the foundation provided by LASD was so crappy, how could these kids magically catch up and excel in high school and college?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dan
a resident of Waverly Park
on Aug 4, 2014 at 11:40 am

Maybe MVLA has something to do with that?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Dan (Not) the man
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Aug 4, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Of course MVLA has something to do with it. But if every entering MVLA high school student from LASD was some educationally stunted, mindless, "bubble filling" drone, they'd have some serious remediation to do which does not at all seem to be the case. I'd say most LAMV freshmen seem to have a solid foundation for high school success. But again, please answer the question: What is your *direct, personal* experience with the LASD curriculum?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by I like it
a resident of another community
on Aug 4, 2014 at 2:30 pm

This is a great program. Thanks for serving the community.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 5, 2014 at 2:14 pm

Thanks for this community donation program! Since MVWSD Superintendent Goldman was mention, I guess not all the kids (low income- high need) are from LASD (or MVWSD either). Note - this is NGO volunteer work.
Now - on to the LCFF Supplementary Grant $$. This is extra state $$ per "targeted student". For MVWSD 51% of our students The money, under 'local control' could be used to actually fund summer academics of this 'camp-fun style'. I have yet to convince, even using parent input, the majority of my MVWSD Board, that these "Summer Matters" programs (ex. CSBA) actually matter!
Oh well, majority votes matter. And the very effective parent juntas in my district have not yet completely revved themselves up on this issue.
MVWSD does not fully fund all the high needs PK positions that are applied for. Or fully fund programs for all the children that would be eligible under the LASD summer 'school' program. My bad, my responsibility!

Teacher in Castro City (and the MVWSD Castro teacher volunteers), we salute you! (and next year - maybe a majority Board vote for some of this with pay in MVWSD through the LCAP)?
SN is a MVWSD Trustee, elected Nov. 2012


 +   Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2014 at 5:04 pm

Don't know what LASD was like years ago but can tell you that my kids certainly aren't being taught to the test. They have had fabulous project-based learning experiences, really interesting STEM labs, as well as service projects and mentoring off younger students. The teachers collaborate with each other and seek out unique continuing education opportunities. I've been very impressed with the education my children are getting.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by LASD parent too
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2014 at 5:11 pm

@ parent

What school are you at? My experience isn't the same as yours. Only one of my kids got to visit that the STEM lab- I have three. I am sure about what you about projects. My fourth grader did something on the Missions but the younger ones didn't do anything that was a true project - so themed stuff - but not actual Project Based Learning.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by LASD parent too
a resident of another community
on Aug 7, 2014 at 5:15 pm

@ parent

Sorry about the typos, Let's try that post again -

What school are you at? My experience isn't the same as yours. Only one of my kids got to visit that the STEM lab, I have three. I am not sure what you mean by project based learning experiences. My fourth grader did something on the Missions but the younger ones didn't do anything that was a true project - some themed stuff - but not actual Project Based Learning.


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