Village Summer Camp 2021
The Village Exchange Center's youth programs have a wonderful summer to look back on, and a bright fall/winter season ahead.
This summer, nearly 70 Campers (ages 9-14) joined VEC staff, counselors, and volunteers for six weeks of Village Youth Summer Camps. Whether at our Village Farm at Stanley Marketplace, at our Center, or around town for camp field trips, refugee youth mixed with American-born students to explore a variety of activities and pursuits throughout June and July. These included: farm skills and seed planting, local ecology, healthy lifestyles, teamwork and sportsmanship, woodworking, robotics, STEM concepts, archery, horse care, equestrian basics, and a whole lot of games! Some students had their very first experience riding a horse, performing on stage, or lounging at the swimming pool -- and everyone made some new friends!
Our standout week in June had campers join VEC staff and guest speakers for our very first Village BIPOC Theater Camp. Students learned stagecraft and scene work in our new theater space, but also lessons on diversity in the arts, advocacy, the power of student voices, and how they will change the industry and the world. This inspiring group of kids connected with several local artists and professionals - special thanks to our speakers and teachers, including Lisa Young of IDEA Stages, theater educator and local performer Ilasiea Gray, and the Aurora Fox Theater staff. Students had a great talent showcase at the end of camp, and we look forward to doing more theater programs this fall!
Village Youth has been blessed to have some wonderful partners in the community, including Scouts of America, Factory Five Five, The Urban Farm, City of Aurora's Generation Wild, and the aforementioned Aurora Fox Theater.
A new partnership from this fall has been Schomp Subaru in Aurora. In August, Schomp worked with youth program manager Austin Lazek and the marketing team from Eclectic Activation to create (and fund) a youth soccer team. And with some help from and the Colorado Soccer Foundation, we held a wonderful kickoff scrimmage event in August at Soccer City. This team gives local kids an opportunity to work and compete together, and we are currently looking for indoor scrimmage and tournament opportunities. Also, through Schomp we were able to link up with Broncos MVP Von Mille for their September event, during which we were able to get some of our youth eye exams and glasses through Von's charity, Von's Vision.
Village Youth continued to build its team of volunteers and counselors this summer, and we are looking to re-engage our student volunteers at Regis Jesuit High School, who will gain service hours while also bringing additional academic support for our kids this fall. Not to be left out, our recent Natural Leaders graduates joined our team of camp counselors this summer, and we are planning a new Natural Leaders cohort to begin this October with students attending Aurora West. With this support, our youth programs continue to build relationships with schools and young leaders throughout Aurora.
In fact, thanks to a recent award from Caring for Colorado’s Together We Protect grant, we will be starting a new Vaccine Equity Outreach Program with our youth this fall. Partnering with 9Health and the VEC team with our own weekly vaccine clinics, we plan to enlist local youth (and some of our own Natural Leaders) to design a creative outreach campaign aimed at educating their peers and personal networks to encourage further vaccine outreach. We will train a street team, hold events, and create an incentive plan to help get more people vaccinated throughout the winter.
It's been a challenging past year, and we look to the months ahead with a growth mindset. As we expand our team, our operations, and the scope of our facilities, VEC will continue to provide its neighborhood youth a fun, safe place to go and learn. This fall and winter, we are providing more mini-camps, a space for theater enrichment, and a space for students to receive academic support, social-emotional coaching, and healthy snacks.
So proud of all we've accomplished - so much to look forward to!
Village Soccer Team
Kids in the creek
Summer Camp 2021 by the numbers