YELC 2024 Wraps Up an Epic Summer

The Youth Environmental Leadership Camp (YELC) kicked off on June 3, ushering in an action-packed four-week journey for young environmental enthusiasts. Campers dove into a whirlwind of activities focused on water, food production, waste management, climate change, and more. They also had the chance to explore various career paths and connect with professionals in the field.

Every week, groups of 15 campers embarked on immersive adventures from Monday to Friday, soaking up knowledge from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. Daily field lessons took them on thrilling excursions, all beginning and ending at the Splash Science Center in Mather, CA.

Both parents and campers praised the camp’s dynamic schedule. Each day started with a check-in and ended with reflections on the day’s lessons, career insights, and nature discoveries. This approach ensured that every camper felt seen, heard, and understood what they learned. YELC truly embodies the synergy of nature and nurture.

Camper Testimonial: “This camp was an incredible experience! I learned so much about nature and how we can help the Earth. It was the best camp I’ve ever attended and a lifelong memory. It inspired me to explore careers in nature and environmental conservation.”Xyrus

YELC is designed for upcoming 6th—and 7th-grade students. It aims to cultivate future environmental leaders by fostering a deep connection to nature and a sense of responsibility towards their communities. We emphasize hands-on learning, requiring campers to participate in at least two environmentally focused volunteer events with our partner organizations. These experiences help campers apply their knowledge, develop practical skills, and cultivate a sense of civic duty.

Camper Testimonial: “One of the most inspiring experiences for me was when we got to create our own creek and control erosion using a physical model. It was an incredible hands-on activity that made learning about environmental science fun and engaging. Seeing how our actions could directly impact the environment was truly eye-opening!” Beth

Through volunteer activities like tree planting, river clean-ups, and habitat restoration, campers witness the tangible impact of their efforts, gaining pride and accomplishment. YELC goes beyond traditional classroom learning, immersing campers in real-world scenarios where they collaborate with experts, community leaders, and peers. This enhances their understanding of environmental issues while developing teamwork, critical thinking, and leadership skills.

Parent Testimonial: “My daughter absolutely loved YELC! The field trips, wildlife sightings, and learning from engineers and scientists were incredibly exciting for her. As a parent, I was impressed by the thoughtful program design and the dedication of the Splash staff. YELC was a 10/10 experience—we would definitely do it again!”  Marisa

By the program’s end, campers emerge as confident advocates for environmental stewardship, committed to making positive changes in their communities. YELC prepares them for future academic and professional endeavors, instilling a lifelong passion for environmental conservation and civic engagement.

“Partner organizations provide everything from funding and tour guides to materials, speakers, and hands-on activities, all of which deserve high praise. Their support ensures camp is free for campers and enriches the experience immensely.

These dedicated partners go above and beyond, taking time out of their busy schedules to show our students how humans impact the environment and what simple changes we can make to reduce that impact and protect our world. Through fun and engaging activities, they also introduce campers to the many career opportunities in environmental sciences and related fields, sharing their journeys, whether traditional or not, and whether requiring college or not.”  Becky Milstrey, Splash Director of Operations

Parent Testimonials: “The YELC program was an incredible experience for our daughters. Each day was filled with exciting adventures and valuable learning opportunities. Our girls came home excited to share their newfound knowledge about reducing our environmental impact. The staff’s warmth and support made them feel welcome!”Alyssa

We extend special recognition to our dedicated YELC counselors: Thom, Jason, Kierra, Anna, Katie, David, Becky, Mackenzie, and our exceptional volunteer, Ted. Your hard work and dedication are invaluable to our mission and students.

We owe immense gratitude to our partner organizations. Their expertise and commitment shape the transformative experiences that define YELC. Through their contributions, we instill a mindset shift in our campers, illuminating the vast possibilities within environmental stewardship.

Our partners enrich our campers’ educational journeys, providing real-world insights, hands-on experiences, and mentorship that foster lifelong values of sustainability and stewardship. Together, we empower a generation to tackle environmental challenges and inspire positive change.

Partner Perspective: “Engaging with young people and guiding them to explore their potential is immensely rewarding.”Sam Diaz, CBEC ECO Engineering

We are deeply grateful to our esteemed partners in YELC. With sincere appreciation, we recognize the invaluable contributions of Republic Services, Sacramento Area Sewer District, Nimbus Fish Hatchery, SacTree Foundation, Effie Yeaw Nature Center, Paratransit, Westervelt, Stillwater Science, CBEC, Soil Born Farms, SMUD, Maas Energy, Sacramento EV Club, Raley’s, Folsom Powerhouse/CA State Parks and Van Warmerdamn Dairy. Together, through their dedication and support, we empower youth to explore and protect our natural world, fostering a sustainable future for all.

YELC is FREE for campers thanks to the invaluable support of Rancho Cordova Measure H Community Enhancement Funds, Sacramento Area Sewer District, and SMUD. This funding provides transformative experiences and inspires a love for nature and environmental stewardship among young minds. Together, we’re fostering a generation engaged in understanding their impact on our planet and community. Thank you for helping us guide children from screens to the outdoors, where they learn and grow.

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