FRENCH CAMP – In a lot of respects Kody Shamblin is a lot like every other fourth grader.
He enjoys riding his bike and loves to spend time with a video game controller in his hand.
But after spending six-weeks of his summer vacation learning about gardens and where food comes from, the avid learner says that he wants to take a stab at planning a few seeds of his own into the ground to see what turns up.
The radishes that will be harvested this week with the rest of the class as part of the “Garden in a Wheelbarrow” lesson, he says, just isn’t enough.
“I want to plant my own garden – with things that I like to eat,” he said. “Things like carrots and beets and lettuce and tomatoes. I like school because I can get smarter and this is like school.”
Shamblin was one of two-dozen students assembled in a class at French Camp Elementary as part of the Give Every Child a Chance summer program. Two classes exist at the site and rotate to provide both in-class instruction and physical education to give the kids a chance to exercise their bodies and their minds.
According to GECAC’s Academic Manager Eloisa Rodriguez, programs like the one offered in French Camp help minimize summer learning loss while providing a safe environment for the students involved.
“It provides an environment where they can learn and enjoy the summer – a safe place where they get a healthy snack and get to socialize with their peers,” Rodriguez said. “It keeps them active and that’s important when they have long periods of time off.”
So far this year the group has taken two field trips – one to Yosemite National Park to marvel in the sheer wonder that is the Yosemite Valley and another to a local dairy to learn about where milk comes from. They are gearing up for a third to the Sacramento Zoo.
That, combined with the wheelbarrow garden project, helps make learning fun and gives the students something to look forward to everyday when they arrive.
“I think it’s important for the students to know where fruits and vegetables come from,” said Racquel Fernandez – a Nutritional Educator teaching the students about where and how fruit grows. “Even though we live in a very agricultural area, a lot of students think that it comes from the shelves of the grocery store.
“The program also promotes healthy eating habits. If the students grow it, they’re going to eat it, and hopefully this sparks something that they’ll enjoy in the future.”
Give Every Child a Chance is an afterschool tutoring program that offers a host of other programs designed at helping youth in local communities. For additional information call (209) 825-7003.