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Camping for Kids! Another great year!

Posted December 9, 2009

“I believe this trip blew their worlds wide open,” said a trip coordinator who brought a group of kids from a homeless shelter. “They were without technology for three days, and nobody missed it. It was back to basics for these kids, and they had a fabulous time. New interests were discovered and a profound respect for the environment was gained.”

Each year that we offer this program to young people who otherwise would not have a chance to enjoy a camping trip, we are more excited by the results and resolute in our pledge to keep this program going and hopefully enlarge it. This year ten groups benefited from camping trips which included 200 young people and their mentors. The youth came from Susanville, Bieber, Quincy, Redding, Paynes Creek, Red Bluff, Paradise and Sacramento. All groups reported that the trip initiated a special bond for the youth and adults who shared this experience. Many of the kids had never camped, fished, or been in a boat. Soon they were on the trail to Lassen Peak or Bumpass Hell and learning that this wonderful place belongs to all of us.

The coordinator from Big Valley Family Resource Center, Bieber, said that most of the campers were from high-risk families so it was great to witness them learning to work together for the benefit of everyone. The youth all go to school together and many of them had differences in the past. By the end of the trip they had learned to work together and share a laugh instead of an argument. Through hikes, ranger presentations and campfire discussions, youth involved in the program learned to appreciate the public lands they were visiting.

Said the coordinator from Jackson Heights School: "We suspect that most youth had never heard of such a thing as a national park before this trip and they certainly had no idea of the expanse of the park. Most thought the Loomis Museum area (just near the park gate) was the whole park when we first arrived! The park rangers did a wonderful job of enlightening the students about LVNP and how they can contribute to its health and future."

Several of the groups participated in the Junior Ranger program at the park and were sworn in as Junior Park Rangers. They watched the "Starry Nights" amphitheater presentation and one group hiked through Subway Caves on the way home.

The Sierra Club Inner City Outings from Sacramento brought children from a homeless shelter. "The kids acquired a new vocabulary," said the trip coordinator. "It was really fun to watch them try to identify the different types of volcanoes and animals. I saw them continually applying new information. I also observed a lot of teamwork. They would encourage each other on a long trail, or help each other up if somebody fell. During the long drive up the Sacramento Valley, Alissa and Aaliyah, both 11, had wondered why the group didn't just camp at some lake much closer to Sacramento. But when the cars arrived at the Manzanita Lake parking lot and they saw the snow-streaked mountain looming above the cobalt lake, the oohs and aahhs began. When Noah, 9, saw Lassen Peak, he said, "That's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen.""

The ranger is recording vital stats on a bird as part of the Park’s resources monitoring program. Lassen has quite a number of bird species that either live year-round, seasonally, migrate through, breed, etc and this is one of the ways to learn of the health and persistence of these birds.

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