WHITTIER – About 45 members of the Boys & Girls Club of Whittier created electronic escape room games, created relief-prints and composed electronic music during a four-day, project-based summer camp at Rio Hondo College.

Camp Rio was sponsored by the Whittier-based BCM Foundation and Pacific Western Bank as a way to offer project-based learning opportunities to area children ages 11 to 13 and inspire interest in college opportunities.

Participants not only explored their topics, but enjoyed afternoon sports clinics and, on the last day, a celebration at the Rio Hondo College pool. Rio Hondo College faculty experts taught all classes, with assistance from Rio Hondo students. Children received T-shirts, ball caps and backpacks with material on the benefits of college.

“Camp Rio is a fantastic way for Rio Hondo College to share its wealth of skills and knowledge with the youth of our community,” Superintendent/President Teresa Dreyfuss said. “It’s also an opportunity for us to connect with the children who represent the region’s future and learn from them about their passions and interests.”

Participants learned skills in workshops from Monday, July 16 through Wednesday, July 18, and applied those skills to group or individual projects. On Thursday, July 19, the children presented their work – electronic games, printed T-shirts and tiles, and musical compositions – to Boys & Girls Club leaders, Rio Hondo College administrators and staff, and the BCM Foundation Board.

Josephine Iniguez, a seventh-grader, worked with a team to create an electronic escape room that required players to figure out a code from clues given by players.

“It’s really fun,” Iniguez said. “The fun part is that you can choose your characters and the background and the hard part is just making up the words and how you could put it all together.”

Another group of children used Logic Pro software to select musical elements, such as percussion and arpeggio, and assembled them to create individual compositions.
Sixth-grader Zelda Zamora-Villa possessed a particularly strong idea for what she wanted her song to sound like, according to camp organizers.

“I wanted it to sound really nice,” Zamora-Villa said. “I wanted to make it big and loud and all over the place, like me.”

Zamora-Villa said she has long had a passion for music. She said the composing project allowed her a greater sense of expression than when she plays a single instrument.
“It’s almost like you put more of yourself into it. Here, you choose everything and put it in,” she said.

A third group of participants explored relief printing, starting with a template for the first letter of their name. Children decorated the template with images to represent their interests, then carved their design, in reverse, on linoleum. Then, they printed the linoleum image onto archival paper using an etching press.

Oscar Hernandez, chief executive director of the Boys & Girls Club of Whittier, said the project-based program supports what the children learn during the school year and combats summer learning loss.

“The resources that are provided by the College are just beyond amazing for our kids. It gives them an opportunity to do something they probably wouldn’t have a chance to do in our organization or anywhere else,” Hernandez said.

Dr. Grant Linsell, Rio Hondo College’s dean of arts and cultural programs, said the College hopes to expand the program in 2019.

“Rio Hondo College’s partnership with our community is a key element of our commitment to this region,” Board of Trustees President Madeline Shapiro said. “We are so thankful to the BCM Foundation and Pacific Western Bank for supporting Camp Rio and to the Boys & Girls Club for partnering with us to provide this incredible program to such deserving children.”


Click here to see a video of Camp Rio

RHC_CAMP_1-3: Camp Rio participants present their electronic game, printmaking and music projects during the program’s culminating program on July 19.