Growing up in CAMP Claremont

As mid-summer heat beats down on Claremont, local elementary school students stay cool with water guns. Volunteers prepare today’s snack as energetic kids play ‘Just Dance’ in the game room. Camp Claremont is in full swing.

More than just a summer camp, Camp Claremont is a mixture of campers, volunteers and city workers all dedicated to having a fun and busy summer. The staff work together to design the activities that entertain the kids, and the kids put all their energy into each activity. The volunteers have gotten good at creating games on the fly to entertain restless campers.

The most interesting aspect, however, is the fact that most of the volunteers and city workers were once campers themselves. For example, Brandon Brown, the site coordinator, got his start as a participant in Camp Claremont, eventually working his way to his current position. He believes that the connections created between the kids are an amazing outcome of the camp.

“[Camp Claremont] creates friendships that last a lifetime,” he said. “It gives everyone a familiar face. I’ve had kids tell me that they talked to someone during the school year because they met them here.”

Claremont students can be campers from first through sixth grade, and volunteers range from seventh through 12th grade, meaning someone who has been a part of camp since first grade can immediately go from being a participant to a volunteer.

The volunteer program is formatted to give students the experience of working a job. They must fill out an application for a position at Camp Claremont, and when they work they are responsible for logging their own hours, which are documented on a certificate at the end of the summer. Their duties help demonstrate the responsibility of helping run an organization, such as set up, clean up, running activities and selling food at the snack bar.

Cindy Be, a rising sophomore at CHS, is currently in her third year as a volunteer, but attended as a camper for two years prior. She says she made plenty of friends in her time in Camp Claremont, and wants to do the same for the younger students.

“I want to give children the summer experience they deserve,” she said.

The combination of so many age groups is why Skylar Segura, the supervisor of youth programs in Claremont, loves her work. In her ninth year at the camp, Ms. Segura started as a volunteer during her summers home from college, but her love of working with kids started much earlier.

“I have always had a passion for kids,” she said. “I never realized it would be a part of my career path until I started, and I loved it.”

Camp Claremont is fun for all involved, especially the campers, who are always eager to join each activity, whether it be handball or making snacks.

The Youth Activity Center is a popular spot, as it is set up with a game room, a snack bar and furniture where students can rest. Most campers hope to volunteer when they enter seventh grade, and many have been attending for years.

Jonathan Godine, who will start fifth grade at Oakmont and enjoys basketball, has been attending for six years. He hopes to return to help work the camp after he is too old to attend.

Similarly, Emerson Mori, a sixth grader at Condit who enjoys dodgeball, is in his fourth year and hopes to be a volunteer next year, when he enters junior high.

With the abundance of time kids and teens have on their hands during the summer, an organization like Camp Claremont is perfect for entertaining all ages.

Camp Claremont runs until Friday, August 9 at Cahuilla Park (1717 N. Indian Hill Blvd.) from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Participants must be Claremont residents and registration must be done in person at the Hughes Community Center (1700 Danbury Rd.). For information, call (909) 399-5490 or visit ci.clarmont.ca.us.

—Eleanor Corbin

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