Tuesday, July 12

Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives holds Summer Camp Awards Ceremony

Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives Summer Camp participants read their poems during the center's awards ceremony in Opelousas on July 7, 2016.  

Baton Rouge, LA – The Southwest Center for Rural Initiatives (SCRI) held an awards ceremony on July 7 to celebrate the end of its five-week summer camp.
The annual camp themed, “Welcome to the Fantastic Voyage,” provided some 95 St. Landry Parish youth with various workshops on the topics of: Arts and Crafts; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); Healthy Living; Creative Writing, Reading, Leadership/Citizenship and Youth Gardening.

During the ceremony several of the youth read original poems written during the creative writing/ poetry workshop, presented science fair projects and discussed what they learned about themselves during the leadership/citizenship workshop.

The camp’s staff also discussed the educational field trips and tours the students were provide with to the apple store, public library, skating ring, Opelousas Museum and Interpretive Center and the Southern University Ag Center’s annual Family and Youth Expo.

Camp participant Chassidy Fontenot said she enjoyed the summer camp and the opportunity it provided her to attend the SU Ag Center’s Expo.

“It (Expo) was awesome,” explained Fontenot. “We were able to stay overnight in the college dorms at Southern University and attend workshops. The workshop that stuck out the most was the one that 19-year-old business owner Hayley Thompson presented on how she started her own bakery as a teenager. The information encouraged me to want to start my own business one day,” she added.

“The camp provided a way for the students to prepare themselves for the upcoming school year, especially with the STEM and creative writing workshops,” said the camp's director, Zenobia Guillory. “I thought it was very important for the younger students to continue reading so we were able to participate in story time at the library and we worked on sight words because we had a lot of students who were going to the 1st grade.”

Guillory went on to explain that the camp’s participants also participated in the parish library’s summer reading program, in fitness workshops and learned to read food labels.

“The students were interested in reading the food labels of Pop-Tarts and Oreo cookies,” laughed Guillory. “But it’s important that they are learning to read the nutritional value of food at a young age,” she said.

Guillory also noted that the students were excited about starting a garden. Saying that she remembered one of the 16 year old’s telling her that he had never planted a seed in his life. The camp’s garden provided him with the opportunity to plant a seed and see the results of his labor.

“I think the garden gave the students a chance to see that they can plant a garden at their homes and the seeds will grow,” said Guillory.

Many of the participant’s parents and grandparents attended the ceremony and were impressed at what they saw.

“From attending this ceremony, I can see how the program, its workshops and activities have been very beneficial to my five children,” said Johnny Fontenot. “If the SCRI will accept them, I look forward to having them in the program again next summer,” added Fontenot.

“The camp was exciting, fun-filled and I think we have them motivated for the upcoming school year,” said Guillory with a smile.

The SCRI is a satellite campus of the Southern University Ag Center. Located in Opelousas, Louisiana, the center serves the 10 parishes of: St. Landry, Lafayette, Vermilion, Acadia, St. Martin, Pointe Coupee, Avoyelles, Beauregard, Allen and Evangeline.

To view highlights from the awards ceremony, click here.

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