The academy makes the trip twice a year to Emerald Bay Boy Scout Camp for community service and a little fun.
EMERALD BAY 一 Sunburst Youth Academy, based in Los Alamitos, led a group of 116 cadets to Catalina Island from October 15-17 for a community service project at the Boy Scouts of America Camp Emerald Bay.
This is the academy’s third trip to the island so the cadets can explore the island and provide much-needed help to the camp in the form of brush clearing, cabin cleaning and other maintenance activities that have fallen by the wayside since COVID-19 started.
“… As I started to think about the needs of the Boy Scouts and the needs of the kids, I saw a perfect fit,” said Jeannie Anderson, para-educator at Sunburst Youth Academy and Catalina Travel Organizer. “… Especially after COVID. The Boy Scouts had no campers for about a year and a half and there were about three people on staff who ran the entire camp. They did not have the manpower to take care of all the brush clearing and regular maintenance of the camp. They were buried under the amount of work that needed to be done.
The Sunburst Youth Academy is a five-month, credited high school program for students between the ages of 15 and 18 who are considered to have bad credit and are at risk of not graduating.
Students are seen as “living up to their promises” and come from a variety of backgrounds which may include influences from gangs, drugs, or other situations that keep them from controlling their education.
This is a voluntary program and students go through an application process before starting the program in January or July. After that, they live at the Los Alamitos Joint Force Training Base, where they will also go to school.
Anderson began arranging trips to Catalina with the academy in 2019 after an informal chat with one of the military personnel while hiking in the wetlands caught his attention.
“A few years ago I was hiking with Sunburst, I’m a para-educator there and we were in the wetlands. It was a very clear day and we could see Catalina, ”said Anderson. “One of the soldiers said, ‘I always wanted to bring the kids to the island’ and I was like hmmm, I probably could.”
After that, an idea was born and Anderson sat down and began to strategize with Nate Erlandson, director of camp facilities, on how to integrate cadets and how to pay for the effort.
For the first trip, Anderson reached out to Corsair Yacht Club in Emerald Bay, where she and her husband have been a member for 25 years, to talk about her vision and how to pay the charter to bring the kids to Catalina.
Corsair stepped in and raised enough money to pay for a charter for a platoon of 50 children to come to the island for the first of what would become a regular event.
For the next two trips, a Los Angeles nonprofit, A Chance for Children, paid for the charter, at a cost of nearly $ 9,000.
Corsair continues to stay active with the event by donating $ 3,100 during the last trip for tools like rakes and brooms for cadets to use on the island.
Funding the trip to the island was a challenge for Anderson and the staff. Yet, with the support of nonprofits and the community, it has become a biannual event that allows these cadets to create new experiences and help the community along the way.
“Basically a lot of people came together and supported our vision and our idea and made it happen,” Anderson said.
It’s not all work and no play for the kids, aside from the hard work they do to clean up the camp, they have some free time to experience Catalina’s natural magic.
“I mean it’s a whole new experience for them. I was really thrilled to see that they all had a great time and captured the whole experience in its entirety, ”said Anderson. “It was really fun to sit and watch them love it, especially when they had several hours of free time using the kayaks, paddleboards and jumping off the float in front of the dock and some kids were fishing and some were fishing. archery and hiking. Seeing them all make the most of the whole experience was very rewarding and well worth it, I will do it again.
Anderson and Sunburst hope to expand the program in the coming year. The academy cadet number is expected to increase to 160-180 cadets out of the 116 cadets who attended the July-December session, and there is talk of another project for Cherry Valley.
To learn more about the program or to donate for the next trip, contact Jeannie Anderson at [email protected]; for more information on Sunburst, see https://www.sunburstadmissions.com/.