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CAMP Summer Program Expands Student Horizons

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP).

CAMP’s prime objective is to pique the educational interest of children of migrant and seasonal farmworker families. The students are exposed to new experiences while gaining the self-confidence that will enable them to succeed in school and ultimately earn a college degree.

This year's final weeklong residential summer session, which concluded July 2, consisted of 90 students entering grade seven through nine.

The young men and women stayed in Sacramento State’s award-winning American River Courtyard residence hall. CAMP activities included academic assessments, learning skills, tutoring, leadership exercises and field trips. CAMPers were assigned to groups of 15 that encouraged close, personal attention from residential advisers.

The students came from various Northern California locales, including Napa, Vacaville, Dixon, Davis, Winters, Yuba City and Ukiah.

Twelve-year-old Tommy Villalobos is typical of the program’s enthusiastic participants. He and his older brother Javier are from Clear Lake, where their parents work in the fields. The experience of spending a week on campus is one they won’t forget.

Francisco Flores, on the other hand, had been to Sac State before because his older sisters are students. Yet he was no less impressed by the beautiful grounds and state-of-the-art buildings such as The WELL.

David Aguirre came all the way from Fort Bragg. The 13-year-old will enter eighth grade this fall and plans to go to college. An avid basketball player, this was David’s first visit to a college campus.

Jasmine Cabrera is an ambitious “almost 13-year-old” who is aiming for the Central Intelligence Agency or law school. Growing up near Chico State, Jasmine is determined to have her life go beyond working in the fields where her father toils. “I’ve spent several days out there, picking up things,” she said, and she praised her parents for helping her to excel in school so she can pursue a college education.

Barinder Kavr is headed for Live Oak High School near Yuba City. She’s the youngest in her family, loves music and would like to attend Sac State.

CAMP’s daily regimen begins with a 6:30 a.m. wake-up call, breakfast at 7 and then on to a schedule that features some math, English, college preparation, creative arts, science, technology, engineering, homework and tutoring. There’s also time for sports and recreation as well as personal time before lights out at 11 p.m.

This was Emilio Gaza’s third year teaching migrant students. The math major plans to complete his degree at Sac State in 18 months. He and his family migrated from Mexico to Watsonville seven years ago. Both of his parents are field workers, and he will be the first in his family to earn a college degree. He plans to become a teacher, a skill he readily employed before a class of 65 students solving a math problem. His ability to manage and engage the class was underscored by 15-year-old David Morales of Sacramento, who stayed after class to demonstrate his grasp of the exercise.

Positive reinforcement is crucial. A public-speaking session is designed to bolster the CAMPers’ self-confidence; ditto for the college preparation series that helps students transition from middle school to high school and then to college. Guest speakers encourage them to begin thinking about potential careers while discussing financial assistance and scholarships that can help pay their college fees.

The students’ experience with CAMP gives them a taste of campus life to whet their appetite for a college education. The program’s culminating event brings the families together to discuss what the students gained from the CAMP Summer Youth Leadership Institute.

The federally funded program has been called a home away from home for economically disadvantaged youngsters. It opens to them, as Manuel Pacheco says, “a world of possibilities.”

The personable Pacheco personifies CAMP’s value. He was a program participant as a 14-year-old and eventually graduated from Sacramento State in 2009, majoring in digital media. This is his fifth year working with the program and, more important, serving as a role model to the students. He wants to help inspire them to make the most of their potential as CAMP did for him. His example helped inspire his sister, who is on track to get her degree from Sac State in Health Science next year.

For media assistance, contact Public Affairs at (916) 278-6156.

More on Professor Roberto Pomo's lecture to CAMP students:

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