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Disadvantaged city kids take part in Councilman Wesson's camping project

July 17, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Dozens of kids from disadvantaged neighborhoods across Los Angeles are getting out of the city and getting into nature this week. One camp close to the city feels a million miles away.

For some of these kids, this camping trip gives them a chance to experience life outside of gang violence, fear and all too often, tragedy. Tuesday morning more than 70 boys and girls ages 8 to 12 pitched tents at Hansen Dam in the San Fernando Valley, taking part in a program by the Project SAVE gang-intervention organization and the city of Los Angeles.

"Next year is my last year so I want to make sure these two years that I can come and camp is the best time I can have," said Panorama City resident Jadine Ramirez.

"I grew up in the Crenshaw area, and so I know what it's like to grow up without those opportunities and resources, just to get away from all the violence and stuff like that, so I think this is really special," said camp counselor Jasmine Baker.

The kids are chosen from cities throughout L.A. They get a chance to spend several days experiencing nature, hands-on and free of charge. The camp has been around for nearly a decade.

"We go swimming, we take walks, we ride horses. It's just fun," said L.A. resident Ashley Grady.

"It's going to be cool to find snakes and lizards," said L.A. resident Noah Sekona.

L.A. City Councilman Herb Wesson has helped organize the camp since it started. Wesson says this is the first year campers are sleeping in tents instead of staying in cabins.

"We are actually building our own tents and what have you. And if this is a successful outing, Rec and Parks is going to incorporate it into their regular park program," said Wesson.

The kids are learning all about teamwork by pitching in to put up their own tents. Some of them really focused on the job at hand, hammering, pulling and more.

"We definitely made new friends, and as you can see with the tents, we learned how to work together, put up tents, and this year we really learned how to rough it," said Mid-City resident Reese Pitts.

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