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The Westcoast Connection Blog

Life Changing Experiences

Livin’ L.A. Vida – California Community Service

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Dear Friends and Family of California Community Service,

We invite you to jump with us to Day 4 for our visit to Santa Monica. Picture street performances, an amazing view of the beach, a carnival on the pier, and of course funnel cake!  A lot of trip members tried out the Westcoaster ride which zipped around the pier, but a definite highlight was when our entire group boarded the Ferris wheel. As we rose to the top, we snapped some great photos of Santa Monica.

As we continue our travels, we’d like to introduce you to our vehicles for the trip: the Magic Minivan, Soccer Dad, and the Majestic Penelope. Day 5 brought us to Venice Beach where we spent some time exploring in groups. Trip members enjoyed checking out the souvenir shops as well as some eclectic artwork on the boardwalk. Muscle Beach, an antique car show, and the huge skate park were fascinating! In the afternoon, we chilled on the beach and swam in the Pacific Ocean once again. The warm water and waves make the beaches in California truly unforgettable.

Community Service Teen Tour

Day 6 was our first day with the Dean Eastman/Fairfield Boys and Girls Club in Long Beach. As soon as we walked through the doors, several children ran up to us to ask who we were, where we were from, and welcomed us with hugs. We assisted with different programs including activities in the classrooms, games in the gym, and competitions at the park. The kids’ huge smiles and enthusiasm throughout the day were really encouraging. Our trip members gave it their all and our first day with the Boys and Girls Club was a huge success!

At the end of the day, we met Stephanie who is a coordinator of multiple sites for the Boys and Girls Club. She answered our questions about the program and explained some of the challenges that the community of Long Beach faces including poverty. She invited us to think of some creative ways to bond with the kids over the next two days. Later that night, we brainstormed some ways that we could connect deeper with them. A lot of interesting thoughts were shared around the issue of poverty which really reminded our group why the work of the Boys and Girls Club and other organizations is so important.

When we returned to the center on Day 7, we were thrilled when the kids ran up to us and called us by name. Throughout the day, the trip members took the initiative to lead activities like guess the leader, hand-ball, and duck, duck, animal. We also learned that the Boys and Girls Club hosts a STEM program that helps the kids succeed in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Many of our trip members were able to tutor the kids as they worked on classroom activities. The center also invites the kids to jam in the music room and release their creativity in the art studio which was a lot of fun for some of our artists on the trip. In addition, the staff at the Boys and Girls Club asked us if we would be interested in working in the yard so that the kids have a nice area to play outside. We accepted this challenge and worked hard pulling weeds and raking. Keeping our end goal in mind, the trip members seemed to enjoy the quality time together and made it a fun task.

Community Service

In the evening we visited Hollywood Improv where we ate a delicious dinner and saw a stand-up comedy show with a hilarious line-up including Stephen Glickman from Big Time Rush,Julian McCullough from MTV, and Taylor Williamson from America’s Got Talent (the second most talented man in America). Taylor even picked Caroline out of the crowd to chat about her experience visiting Japan. We were so pumped when the comedians came to meet us after the show – trip members enjoyed trading high fives and taking pics with the celebrities.

On Day 8, we wrapped up our time at the Boys and Girls Club. We tried to make it a special day for the kids by opening a “nail salon” for the girls and hosting a Superhero design studio!  We gave the kids materials including colorful tablecloths, glitter, and neon duct tape and helped them develop their super identities. This final program was a smashing success!Through heartfelt tears,we bid farewell and vowed to remember our new friends. Here’s what we had to say about the Boys and Girls club:

“This is the best experience I’ve ever had in my life! Not even kidding.” – Jessi

“I really enjoy working in the garden because you can see the outcome.” – Julia

“I love seeing the little kids laughing and having fun.” – Ginevra

“Working at the Boys and Girls Club was very inspiring and exhausting, but at the end we all made new friends and learned more about what the kids are going through and how we can help them as a community.” – Ethan

“The Boys and Girls Club gave us a new perspective on how fortunate we are. Spending time with the kids taught me that a community really can come together to make a difference.” -Adam

 

Have we piqued your interest? Explore our 10-day21-day or 28-day tours and community service projects for teens in California. It will be the travel experience of a lifetime. Start planning your own adventure with Westcoast Connection today!