This past week I was in Salem, Oregon, for the Oregon State University 4-H Multicultural Camp. I stayed there from Wednesday to Friday, and led a bird walk. Most 6th, 7th, and 8th graders did not know what “birding” was, and a majority thought it was going to be boring. But after showing them the essentials of going birding, which included how to properly use binoculars and a scope and look through a field guide, the students were amazed at how fun and thrilling birding could actually be! I encouraged these students to consider a career in the sciences, so they, too, can pursue a job which is both fulfilling and adventurous!
Above all, it was so great to see the students share their culture with one another, by singing along to certain music, learning how to dance, or simply talking to others. The majority of the students were Latino, so I was able to relate to some of the struggles these children may face–being a first generation student, having Spanish as their first language, having a single parent, or being from a low-income household. It’s comforting to know that this camp recognizes these disadvantages and focuses on empowering young minds. The camp also provides the students with opportunities to learn so many different skills. These children not only have fun by going to camp, but throughout it we relay the message that they can become anything they want if they choose to go to college. Hearing that simple message makes makes such a huge impact in the lives of students; it gives them a purpose and a goal. On my last day in the camp, the students were able to go on stage and say how and why this camp has made a difference in their lives. Hearing those testimonies was the most rewarding part of it all. I could see the next generation of Latinos being developed before my eyes.