Good Times in July!
Last summer marked the 20th anniversary of Camp Chance. Although we had a transition with Rebecca Kuga’s retirement, Camp Chance was again a success.
Your support enabled us to provide this camping experience for kids whose families are not ordinarily able to afford expensive residential summer camps. On the week of July 8-12 2019 we returned to Walker Creek Ranch with 62 campers. For the first time, the Novato Police Department in collaboration with The Sparkle Foundation sponsored five campers from various middle schools in Novato. There were ten alumni counselors-in-training (CIT’s) and we recruited six new camp counselors all over the age of 18, two of which were former CIT’s.
We had three new San Rafael Police Department employees join the Camp Chance team. Corporal Aaron Piombo who took the place of Rebecca Kuga regarding the day to day operations, Officer Remington Stobo, and Community Service Officer Antonette Bullock. Marin County Probation and the school resource officers from the Novato Police Department also joined Camp Chance this year.
Cops and Kids Together
Firefighting, CHP Helicopter Landing and Search and Rescue Members of the Marin County Search and Rescue Team also presented to the campers. They talked about what they do, described the training they receive and displayed some of their gear along with demonstrations of how they use equipment during a rescue. The CHP Helicopter landed which was really exciting to the campers. The pilot and crew members answered questions and allowed campers to look inside the helicopter and take pictures.
SWAT Team Demo
Members of the San Rafael-Novato Regional SWAT Team, and Sergeant Domenick Yazzolino of the Marin County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team (SRT) provided the kids with the popular SWAT presentation on Wednesday morning. This team consists of highly trained deputies and police officers who are specially equipped to deal with crisis situations that are beyond the scope of normal patrol operations. Campers listened to Sgt. Yazzolino describe the different types of equipment used, as well as the special training that each member of the team undergoes and then they got to try on some of the gear. In addition, members of the Marin County Probation department joined Camp Chance to give the campers a look at another branch of law enforcement that partners with police agencies. Campers got to see everyone “suited up” and they asked a lot of questions about the tools used to help do the job. We believe that, in addition to educating kids about the tools of the trade, it also helps the campers make the connection between who they see at Walker Creek Ranch and who they see on the streets, in their neighborhoods and schools. We want the rapport to continue beyond Camp Chance and making the connection between civilian clothes and the uniform helps accomplish that goal.
And They’re Off!
Once campers settled into their cabins, met their cabin mates and took swim tests, it was off to the first of many interactive first-responder activities. On Tuesday afternoon the kids met members of the Marin County Sheriff and San Rafael Police Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) teams who taught the campers how to dust and lift fingerprints from various objects. Later that same day, kids were introduced to Officer Zachary Brickell and his K9 partner, Achilles, who demonstrated how they work together as a team to keep citizens safe from crime. As focused as Achilles can be when he’s working, when the collar’s off, he’s just a sweet family pup who loves to be around kids.
For many of the campers the day trip to Drake’s Beach at Pt. Reyes National Seashore is the first time they have experienced nature, the ocean, and open space unencumbered by buildings or freeways. Counselors and peace officers are quick to organize games of catch and football. If the surf is cooperating, kids play in the water under the watchful eye of staff. Kites are flown and at least one person is buried in the sand. The CIT’s help campers make a variety of sandwiches to take with them to the beach. Everyone works up a hearty appetite and it’s not unusual to see some napping on the beach before another round of games and the late afternoon ride back to Walker Creek Ranch.
Appreciation — Project Linus North Bay/Sonoma
Project Linus is a nation-wide organization and their mission is simple: to provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need. They do this by giving children gifts of new, handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created for Project Linus by volunteer “blanketeers” and once again Camp Chance benefited from their kind donation of 100 blankets and afghans. Most kids don’t own fancy camping gear, and some don’t even arrive with a sleeping bag. Walker Creek Ranch has enough surplus gear to help any child enjoy their stay in comfort but this year campers each were gifted with a beautiful handmade blanket that they took home with them Friday morning. A lovely memory of a great week in nature!
Thank You — The 31st Annual Greg Borrelli May Madness Car Show and Parade!
Camp Chance also wants to take a moment to thank the Greg Borrelli May Madness Car Show and Parade for donating proceeds not only from the car show but also from their 1st Annual BBQ hosted by the Elks Club Lodge. Thank you, Rick Lewis, for organizing this event and being such a positive supporter of the San Rafael Police Department, International Footprint Association who provided the food and service for the BBQ, and everyone involved in making the event such a success for this amazing contribution. Special thanks to Richard Hibbs from Golden Gate Transit who donated two cargo buses to transport campers to and from various locations in San Rafael to Walker Creek Ranch and beach day.
Building Lasting Trust!
Jordan’s journey with Camp Chance and Walker Creek Ranch started in 2008. He volunteered as a cabin leader for one of the neighboring elementary schools while he was a freshman attending Angelo Rodrigues High School in Fairfield, CA. Jordan stated he was battling depression at the time and feels attending camp literally saved his life. While attending camp, he connected with one of the Walker Creek Ranch naturalists, Nicky. Nicky saw something special in Jordan but could see that he also struggled with some personal challenges. Jordan says Nicky took time to listen and mentor him. He stated she noticed he needed some new shoes and went out and bought him a new pair. Jordan said Nicky begged him to return the following year as a cabin leader for Camp Chance. Jordan took Nicky up on her offer and became a cabin leader for Camp Chance. Jordan has returned every year since and he has become one of the “Favorite Counselors”. Jordan feels that one act of kindness changed his outlook on life and he vowed to always “Pay it Forward” which is what he is doing with his relationship with Nehemias. Jordan and Nehemias have shared a bond since the Summer of 2013. Nehemias began attending Camp Chance as a camper in 2013 and Jordan was his cabin leader. Nehemias is now a counselor in training for Camp Chance and he is extremely thankful for Jordan’s mentorship. Jordan has had the privilege of promoting six previous campers to counselors and that number will grow to 10 this summer. Jordan recently graduated from the University of California, Davis with honors! He double majored in Psychology and Chicanx Studies with a minor in Education. Passionate about social justice, Jordan has recently been accepted to the University of California, Los Angeles Masters in Student Affairs program. Currently, Jordan is taking medical prep courses for his MCAT at the UC Davis School of Medicine, as his ultimate goal is to gain acceptance into a medical school and become a physician.
He is very interested in two specialties, psychiatry and family medicine. He wants to be a part of changing the stigma in the African American and Latino communities surrounding mental health as well as being a healthcare provider that can relate to his patients on a personal level. He has also developed a website called Prepare to Transfer.com. It’s a service he and a friend provide free of charge to students in California who are first generation college students. The service assists students with the application process and requirements needed to attend their college of choice. Jordan credits his drive and determination on wanting to make a difference in his community. Camp Chance has had the honor of having Jordan in the Camp Chance family for 10 years. We are thankful for the number of children he has positively impacted during his years attending Camp Chance! Camp Chance isn’t an ordinary summer camp it is the one Camp where every kid who attends leaves with unforgettable memories, experiences, and a better person with the biggest smile.
A Message from a Camper
Hello there, my name is Nehemias. I am a 16-year-old junior in high school and I attend Camp Chance. Camp Chance isn’t an ordinary summer camp it is the one Camp where every kid who attends leaves with unforgettable memories, experiences, and a better person with the biggest smile. Camp Chance means the world to me and has changed my life as a camper and a Counselor in Training (CIT). As a camper I had never experienced anything like Camp Chance. I really enjoyed every day and on the last day of camp, I wanted to stay another day super bad. My counselor Jordan, who has become like a brother to me and Rebecca Kuga encouraged me to come back next year and that’s what motivated me to return year after year. I was later recruited to become a CIT for Camp Chance. I realized as a CIT I had more responsibility and wasn’t sure I was ready for the challenge. I experienced some struggles with a difficult camper and wasn’t sure how to handle the situation. My counselor at the time, Luis, came to me and guided me through the process. He shared his own experiences and how this camp was so important to him. He helped me to realize that hard lessons that you learn can only help you grow and change for the better.
After that I was a whole new person. I saw a part of myself in each camper. I used to be that camper who gave my counselor attitude, I used to be that camper who was shy, the camper who came from a difficult background and this camp has helped me overcome these problems and become a better person and hopefully role model to others. Seeing police officers out of uniform and being able to interact without fear helped me realize they don’t just shoot guns and arrest bad guys. They are human beings just like me. I want to be a police officer so that I can build relationships within my community and to help to make it a better place. Thank you for reading about my experience at Camp Chance.
Help Keep the Magic Alive!
Preparations for Camp Chance 2020 have begun and will take place July 6-10 2020. We will be returning to Walker Creek Ranch. It costs approximately $700.00 to send one child to Camp Chance for the 5-Day Program and the need for this program continues to grow. Please share what you can by sending your tax-deductible donation in the enclosed envelope made out to “San Rafael – Camp Chance.” Our tax-exempt number is 94-6000424. Donate online here. Infused with enthusiasm and hope for the future, we look forward to working with you for the continued welfare of Marin’s children!