Santa Barbara is filled with summer day camps and activities — hence the need for a Summer Fun guide such as this one. However, it wasn’t always this way.
Terry Brown, the current youth activities supervisor at the City of Santa Barbara’s Parks & Recreation Department, remembers a time when parents didn’t have very many choices of where to send their kids for day camps and activities during the summer.
In the 1980s, there were two big entities offering summer camps and activities, according to Brown: the City of Santa Barbara and the YMCA. While UC Santa Barbara, the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County and Westmont College also offered programming, Brown recalls the frenzy of parents and children registering for the city’s summer camps not 15 years ago.
“You’d see dads in sleeping bags,” said Brown, recalling registration at MacKenzie Park during that time. “Parents would camp out like (at) a concert.”
Since then, summer camps and activities have grown rapidly in Santa Barbara. The Parks & Recreation Department alone used to only offer a few favorites like Aquacamp and Nature Camp in the ’80s. Currently for Summer 2014, Parks & Recreation offers more than 20 different types of camps, including half-day and full-day options and a Full Inclusion program for children with special needs.
Brown, who has overseen this growth in her career in coordinating youth activities with the city, attributes all the work to the innovative ideas that people brought to her, staff that works round the clock to fulfill the promises that she makes to clients, and, most of all, the generosity of the community.
“This is the type of generous town where people share,” Brown said. “And when you find that niche and lay that foundation with those resources (they provide), then everyone wants to be part of that success.”
Brown personally seems to have benefited from the the generosity and connections in Santa Barbara. After working as an hourly camp counselor at UCSB during her summers, she got a recommendation to look for work at the Parks & Recreation Department. Since then, she has worked as a nature camp counselor and has overseen the recreation and after-school program for the city and the Santa Barbara Unified School District. These experiences have led her to successfully conduct all affairs concerning the After-School Recreation Program and Summer Camps and Clinics as the youth activities supervisor.
Not only have these connections with the school districts, Santa Barbara City College and education professionals allowed Brown to excel in her career, but they have helped the Parks & Recreation Department offer the most innovative and exciting programs every summer.
“The technology available to the kids (because of these connections) is exciting,” said Brown, after mentioning that a former camp counselor is now a teacher offering up the use of a robotics lab for a summer camp.
While teaching girls about how to run a business, Lego engineering and getting access to a 3-D printer may seem new and exciting right now, Brown is always on the look-out for the newest craze for kids to show off new camps and revamp old ones. There is no doubt that she will find it, whether through meeting a new business partner or getting a call from an old employee of hers with a great new idea.
Through strong ties in the community and ingenuity, Brown has laid a strong foundation of within the department’s summer camps. With the classic Nature Camp and Aquacamp, as well as new favorites like PEAK Science and Lego Robotics, Parks & Recreation offers an exciting roster of activities this Summer 2014. One can only see an impressive amount of growth in the Parks & Recreation summer camps in the future.