Students Win Big at Gateway Discovery Camps
Camps Demonstrate Power of Community Partnerships
Forty-four underserved school-age children enjoyed a fully funded week of science camp at the Gateway Science Museum this summer, thanks to the generosity of the Chico community and supporters of the Gateway.
The fourth- and fifth-graders from Egling Middle School in Colusa, some of whom had never left their town, took the 30-minute bus ride daily to participate in hands-on projects, outdoor lessons and field trips to local parks and preserves as part of the Gateway Science Camps. The youngsters were supported in full by community and business donations made at “An Evening to Treasure,” the Gateway’s annual fall fundraising gala.
Each year, An Evening to Treasure seeks donations in support of the museum’s initiatives and activities. At the 2012 gala, an auction to support the science camps, Raise Your Paddle, secured $22,000 for the program. In addition, Tri-Counties Bank donated nearly $10,000 to sponsor a second week of camp for underserved students.
The Raise Your Paddle funds were also sufficient to aid in underwriting two open weeks of camp, according to Gateway Science Museum Director Renee Renner, making those camps more affordable for an additional 45 students. Several donors at the fall fundraising event also purchased items on the Gateway’s “wish list,” and a number of local businesses and organizations provided in-kind donations and discounts to make the sponsored camps a reality, she said.
“The goal of both sponsored camp weeks was to provide a fun and educational science and engineering camp opportunity to underserved children,” said Renner. “The Gateway is so grateful to Tri-Counties, the Raise Your Paddle donors, and our campus and community partners for providing this opportunity to so many children in our region.”
With this year’s camp theme focusing on environmental stewardship, the young students learned about renewable energy and conservation through hands-on wind turbines, solar ovens and oil spill activities. Camp favorites like tie-day, electronic snap-circuits and Scribbler robots added to the fun. Field trips to the Butte Creek Ecological Preserve, the Valene Smith Anthropology Museum, the University’s corpse flower, and the Associated Students’ compost display kept the students interested and engaged throughout the week.
Egling Principal Jody Johnston said the Gateway Discovery Camps were a wonderful summer educational experience for her students, most of whom would not have had the opportunity otherwise.
“They were so excited, they came back from camp and told all the other students about it,” said Johnston. “The projects were engaging, the presenters knew their material, and there were a variety of activities to keep them interested. It was truly a wonderful experience.”
Renner is hoping to raise enough funds again this year to sponsor more camps next summer. “We’re hoping to reach kids in every part of our region,” she said.
This year’s An Evening to Treasure event is slated for Saturday, Oct. 5, and is themed “Mysteries of the Sea.” Tickets may be purchased at www.gatewayscience.org or by calling 530-898-4121.
-- Sarah Langford, Public Affairs and Publications