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Youth Center engages children through summer programs

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --

With children free from school responsibilities during the summer months while many of their parents continue to report to duty, Vandenberg’s Youth Center has established an array of programs to keep children occupied until returning to school.

Maintaining different themed weeks and classes ranging from cooking, to theater, to Ju-Jitsu – the center has something to entertain even the most fastidious children.

“During the summer, the School Age Care Summer Day Camp has nine themed weeks,” said Natalie Gruspe, 30th Force Support Squadron school age program manager. “They are, Aloha Week, Animal Planet Week, Stars and Stripes Week, Jurassic World Week, Time Travelers’ Week, Space is the Place Week, Ocean Life and Water Fun Week, Hollywood Bound Week, and Sportsmania Week. Each week we are going on a field trip or having a special way we will highlight the activities the children do during that week. Field trips include, visits to the Santa Barbara Zoo, Avila Barn and Avila Beach, Vandenberg’s Heritage Center, the La Purisima Mission and Minuteman Beach. A specific event called Summer Exposition, at the end of summer, will highlight everything our children have done over the summer.”

With so many programs, the center is capable of accommodating hundreds of school-aged children throughout the summer months.

“This summer we are offering programs for youth ages five through 18,” said Karen Cook, 30th FSS director of youth programs. “These include performing and fine art programs – such as the Fairytale Theater Camp, Show Choir, dancing through the decades, a week-long Missoula Children’s Theater Camp, as well as an Art Explorers Camp. Currently, our most popular camps are Master Chef and Lego Camp, which began June 21. These programs are unique because they allow our military personnel to access children’s programs without driving downtown.” 

In addition to providing a safe environment for children to spend time until the school-year starts again, Youth Center staff hope to nurture and develop children socially as well as mentally.

“Our Summer Day Camp is unique because we focus on providing opportunities for the children to be successful every day at the Youth Center,” said Gruspe. “We provide activities that are enriching and positive and help the children learn through playing and having fun. Some of our goals at the center are to support positive self-concept, foster independence, and encourage leadership while establishing friendships through the activities and relationships they have built here at the Youth Center.”

Because of the sometimes demanding schedules many military parents sustain, providing a comprehensive and diverse collection of classes and programs to engage Vandenberg’s youth allows parents to better focus on mission objectives.  

“These programs allow parents to concentrate on the mission without having to worry about what their children will be doing while out of school for the summer,” said Cook. “The proximity of the Youth Center allows parents the luxury of being able to visit, pickup and drop off within a few minutes of their duty station.”

For more information on how to enroll a child in the summer programs, or how to volunteer at the Youth Center, call 805-606-2152.