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Q&A: TFTMC participants and coaches reveal their experience at Lassen Volcanic Youth Camp 2019

Located just about three hours northeast of Sacramento, the beautiful Lassen Volcanic National Park can be found. The Lassen Park Foundation has been introducing youth to the adventures and wonders of camping for over 15 years. Thanks to Bob Simpson, a sponsor of the Lassen Park Foundation and Vice Chair of The Future Citizens Foundation (FCF), the Lassen Foundation, and FCF granted the opportunity for 12 participants and coaches to go on this 4-day, 3-night adventure. Coaches Nayeli Barragan and Tim Bearden​, along with six boys and six girls traveled on a six-hour drive to ​Lassen​ Volcanic Park for an unforgettable trip.

I had the chance to hear first hand from Bob, Nayeli, Tim, and participants Timmy and Erika, about this memorable experience.

The following is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Q: Bob, what is Lassen Volcanic Youth Camp and how did you get involved with it?

A: ​I got involved with the Lassen Park Foundation 25 years ago. The Lassen Park Foundation is a group of volunteers that raise money for projects on the Lassen Park Facility. Lassen Park is one of the great natural wonders of California, it has volcanoes and an echo system up there that contains every conceivable type of wildlife from mountain lions to deer, coyotes, hawk eagles, you name it! It's just one of the most beautiful places in California and the foundation raises money for areas that the park do not have money for.

Q: Nayeli, Tim, what was it like spending four days out there with the kids? Can you tell me more about some of the activities you did during the experience?

A: Nayeli Barragan: ​The girls and I, we had a lot of fun and we saw that the boys were really enjoying themselves. Being in the outdoors somewhere they don't really spend a lot of time, it was great seeing them go out on an adventure and try to figure out new things like pinecones and how they are different. Some activities we did the first day when we got there after unloading the vans and the gear, we went to the Vista Lake evening program and it talks about the Lassen Park and its history. The next day we did the Cinder Cone hike and we also spent a little bit of time at the lake so the kids did a little bit of swimming after the very famous hike. That night we made a campfire, we had some s'mores, we loved that. The next day we did Sulphur works, it was beautiful and after coming back to camp we had a little snowball fight. We had a lot of fun.

Bob Simpson, FCF Vice Chair with 2019 TFTMC Lassen Youth Camp attendees. From left, first row: CJ and Erika Nunez. Second row: Timmy Allen, Tim Bearden, Bob Simpson, and Nayeli Barragan

Q: How and when did the Lassen Camp get started, Bob?

A:​ Well three years ago, I talked to Nick Nelson at The First Tee of Monterey County and I told him about our program up at Lassen Foundation and I talked to John Cober, the chairman of the board of the Lassen Foundation. Both thought it was a great idea to have our kids apply for this. The first year we were just a little bit late to get it going but I believe we got it started, sending groups two years ago. I believe we are going to be making another application this year providing that the kids love the experience.

Q: Bob, how and why did you think it was important for Taylor Farms Center for Learning and The First Tee of Monterey County to have selected only 12 participants to be involved with the Camp Lassen experience?

A: ​I think the 12 participants was not a limitation, it was a start. We host groups ranging inside from 10 to 120 youth. So it's just a matter of what we can put together and how many kids we can get there and where the applicants are that year. In fact, our foundation does not limit the number of kids but my feeling was that The First Tee’s nine core values was an extremely important thing to bring to nature. In our nine core values we are talking about life and a huge part of life is nature.

Q: Tim, Nayeli, what was the goal when deciding to take all these children out camping?

A: Tim Bearden:​ I would say, getting as many of them to experience something that they might not usually experience in a place that they probably don't go very often.

Q: Were there any interesting and exciting memories you would like to share?

A: Timmy Allen (participant):​ I just bonded with everybody that went, just getting to know each other is great. It's kind of hard to explain but it's like we all know each other, it feels like we've known each other for years now.

Q: Lastly, what future plans do you have as far as expanding participation and board support?

A: Tim Bearden: ​Definitely continue what we are doing but I would say that the size of the group that we took for the coaching staff to the adult ratio was about a good portion. It would be awesome if we could take more but we would definitely need to have a larger adult group.

A: Bob Simpson:​ My plan is to get a good reaction from the kids and if they really like the program and if they like going to Lassen and they get something out of it, then I would want to push for funding some transportation for more children to get as many up there as we could. The Lassen grant is around $1000 per group to help fund the trip so that is not enough money to take a lot more than what we've done, so that would require board support or encourage the kids to do some fundraising to support their camping trip. So we have lots of options going forward. I really want to see how the kids like the program and how many would really like to go and we can work forward with that with the help of our CEO, Bill Shelton! That is my hope, that we can get a lot of kids participating, a lot of adult participation going in order to supervise the kids and work with them.

Q: Erika, Timmy, what was the experience like, what did you learn on this trip?

A: Erika Nunez (participant):​ It was a good experience and I learned that if you get lost you can use the compass and it can lead your way back. We figured out how to use it! You make a lot of memories with the people you get to meet, you get to know your buddies and who they actually are.

A: Timmy Allen (participant):​ I came back knowing that climbing Cinder Cone was a very taxing trip!

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