By Dianne Anderson

Kids everywhere have two big things on their minds this time of year — getting out of school for two whole months, and hitting the streets hard.

Local programs have equal and opposite concerns – how to keep the kids techy productive, and smartly out of trouble.

Arrowhead United Way is way ahead of the game with its summertime STEM camp “Kids That Code” workshops coming up at Cal State University, San Bernardino.

Gretchen Strutzenberg, AUW program manager, said their nonprofit is starting its application process and inviting parents to get their children registered to attend for two one-week sessions for their summer STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) camp.

The program is always a hit with the kids, but most of all they love their homework assignments.

“It’s really great, it’s a nice outlet for the students, and it’s a fun way of learning,” she said. “The only homework they have is when they take their coding projects or video games home to play with on their computers.”

Parents drop students off with free parking, but if a student needs transportation, she said the program can get them bus passes. To participate, children must be in 4th through 8th  grades, or entering 4th  grade the next school year.

The first session starts June 18 through June 21, split into morning workshops from 9:00 a.m. until noon, and afternoon sessions for building video games running from 1:00 – 4:00 p.m. Arrowhead United Way covers the $449 fee, but she said a small $50 application fee helps keep parents vested in the commitment. The program asks parents to write a small piece on why their child should  take part in the workshop.

“When there’s no buy-in, and no incentive to participate, there’s no drive. Why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free?” she asks.

Kids also learn the value of teamwork in brainstorming sessions, bouncing concepts and ideas to make their projects fly.

“They’re interacting with adults and instructors,” she said. “They’re at the college campus and they get to say they were at Cal State San Bernardino. It’s nice for parents to know the kids are safe with adults, and the kids are having a good time and still learning.”

On Saturday, June 9, the Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County is hosting its literacy event with a Summer Book Fest and Resource Fair where they’ll be giving away books and more for the local kids. The event will be held at 696 S. Tippecanoe Ave. from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.

“It will be super fun here at the CAP parking lot,” Marlene Merrill said. “We’ve got a great day planned for the kids. We have nice raffle gifts.”

Among the dozens of free services on site, the Social Security Administration will have information about the benefits and Unicare Healthcare will outreach on medical and dental services.  The Early Start Family Resource Network has parent support resources, including a state low-cost auto insurance program.


Marlene Merrill, the spokesperson for the Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County, said the free books and resources are being offered to help prevent learning loss that often happens when kids are off for summer vacation.

Research shows significant academic achievement differences between children in poverty and their better-off peers, she said.

The organization is excited to provide thousands of new, colorful children’s storybooks and activity workbooks for fun reading and family learning time during the upcoming break from school, she said.

“For children in low-income families, book purchases typically are not financially feasible.   These books will go a long way in helping children in our disadvantaged communities to learn and read with their families,” she said.

Delmann Heights Center Manager Matt Douglas said all the city parks are getting ready to offer a variety of activities in the weeks ahead, Delmann Heights Center Park included.

“We’re doing movies in the park at five different locations. We’re also going to be doing free summer lunches at all of our community centers,” he said.

Each year, they host a summer trip for the kids, such as the upcoming Knott’s Soak City Water Park. Spots were on a first come, first serve basis, and his center is filled with a waiting list.

Summer is always his busiest time of the year. Most of the city centers are open from 11:00 a.m. -6:00 p.m. Tuesday through Friday. He said Delmann Heights Center Park is expected to be well utilized.

“Our members always double during the summer, definitely outside and in the center about 100 youth a day. Most of our centers have pools and we do offer free swim passes with free swim lessons if they [low income] qualify,” he said. “We don’t really turn away anybody.”

For information on AUW Stem Camp, see https://kidsthatcode.org/auw/

For Summer Park activities, see www.sbcity.org

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