Our family has been very busy over the last few days, and we are excited to share with you what we have been up to! On Saturday, the group returned to the Orange County Rescue Mission to help with a 4th of July Carnival. There were lots of families there, and many families from other Orange County Rescue Mission sites came to enjoy the festivities. We even got to join up with another 360 Student Travel group to run the carnival. One of the staff on-site complimented that this event was a huge success – the best event he had seen during his time there! Eleanor ran a drawing booth where she offered to draw pictures for kids upon request, Sam and Adam D. hosted the popcorn machine, Brandon and Jeremy ran the Ring Toss game, and Lauren, Jen and Elizabeth helped out with the Dime Toss station – a popular one with the kids! Adam L., Matt and Victoria helped out with the Tip a Troll game, although the kids seemed to enjoy chasing them around more than playing the game itself.
Afterwards, the Rescue Mission staff graciously invited us to join them in their dining hall for dinner, which is a rare opportunity for volunteers.
We ate a delicious dinner and got to learn more about some of the people who live there. It was a fantastic day and all the trip members were proud of how successful the carnival was.
The next day – Independence Day – the group began the day by singing the Star Spangled Banner in the lobby of the dorms. We headed out to beautiful Venice Beach and checked out the funky boardwalk and the sandy beach. Meri, Adam D., Elizabeth and Dara buried Jason in the sand (look out for photos -it was hilarious!). That night, we headed to Dodgers Stadium for a Dodgers vs. Mets game – Jeremy and Brandon were very excited, and Jason even wore his Mets pajamas. The Mets won 5-2, and we stayed at the stadium to watch an AMAZING fireworks show.
On Tuesday, we visited the Museum of Tolerance for an interactive session exploring issues of diversity and discrimination throughout history. It was highly informative and the group had a thoughtful discussion about it afterwards. That night, we headed to the very famous Santa Monica Pier where we played carnival games, walked around, watched the sunset, and all rode the large Ferris wheel. It was the perfect way to end our evening!
We then spent three days at the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica. Our group rotated through different activities with kids ages 7-12. Adam D., Adam L., Jason, Brandon, Sam, Matt, Danny, Jeremy and Jamie loved playing basketball with the kids, Lauren and Elizabeth spent time in the art room, Dara and Meri made secret handshakes with the kids, Allie learned Double Dutch jump rope, Chloe and Victoria let the little girls do their nails, Jen played dodgeball and Eleanor played Jenga with some girls. The boys and girls challenged our group to a game of dodgeball, and we must concede that they beat us!
We spent our evenings away from the Boys and Girls Club learning a choreographed dance taught to us by Victoria and Jamie, walking to the UCLA neighborhood of Westwood, where we checked out the UCLA student hang-out filled with cafes, shops, movie theatres and more and delighted in the delicious ice cream sandwichs at the famous Diddy Riese Cookie shop.
We have been having so much fun in the sun – stay tuned for our next update!