Atherton: How school summer camp helps underserved youth, and their families | News – California News

Atherton: How school summer camp helps underserved youth, and their families | News – California News

By Christian Wagner

Every summer when school lets out at Selby Lane Elementary School in Atherton, the after-school academic support program turns into a full summer camp, providing daily academic enrichment, physical exercise, and healthy meals to underserved youth living in Redwood City.

Nearly 100 kids from lower-income families in Redwood City attend this seven-week summer camp, which provides them with six hours of academics and physical activity, while keeping them healthy and fed, according to Summer Camp Director Cesar Zuninga.

“Pretty much all the children come from families with parents working two or more jobs,” said Recreation Specialist Karen Renkel.

Although the tuition is only $100 per student, there is always a high, and growing, demand for financial aid. About 90 percent of the current students qualify for free lunches, while many students even quality for free tuition, said Mr. Zuninga.

The goal of this summer program, known as REACH, is not only to provide a fun learning environment for the students, but to support the families of the students, Ms. Renkel said. When the kids are at camp, parents are able to work without paying a babysitter, which can be a huge problem financially.

“We have a school garden that provides fresh vegetables for the families,” she said.

Since a large part of the summer program is devoted to academic intervention and support, the staff is in close contact with teachers, making sure that the students have what they need to come back to school ready to be successful in the classroom, Ms. Renkel said.

“REACH was very important to me,” said Joeslin Valverde, a REACH alumnus, a student at Foothill College, and…

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