While it may seem the Cal State Long Beach campus is emptier and quieter during the summer sessions, the sound of children playing sports, swimming and otherwise enjoying the summer fills lower campus where 49er Camp is held daily Monday through Friday in the campus physical education areas.
Swimming, golf, tennis, baseball, archery, dance and other activities are available for the children in the school gymnasium.
The camp “helps learning and playing and stuff like that,” said Cole, 10, who is attending the camp for his fifth summer. “My favorite part of the camp is having fun and doing archery.”
“I like swimming because I’m always hot and sweaty,” said Taylor, 6, who is enjoying her second summer at the camp.
The camp is broken into four different groups according to age, beginning with 5-year-old “nuggets,” then “prospectors,” “miners” and ending with 12-year-old “sourdoughs,” according to David Samson, a camp counselor for 49er Camp and a CSULB alumnus who has been working with the camp since 1997.
“The best part of working here is working with the kids and giving back to the campus and community. Kids establish a connection to the campus while at the camp.”
The camp counselors involved with the camp mainly consist of CSULB graduates or teachers as a summer job, according to Rick Hayes, the camp director. “Students at CSULB always have priority,” said Hayes.
The area surrounding the Physical Education building, where the daily activities for the children are held, has been under construction for part of the summer, but according to Shannon Hayes, a camp aide, “The activities at the camp haven’t changed much since construction began.”
Shannon is one of many from the Hayes family who contribute to the functioning of the camp. Rita and Katie Hayes also work in the office. Meghann, another one of the Hayes daughters, works as a camp counselor teaching girls in dance classes.
According to Rick, the camp was founded by Bob Wuesthoff, a former CSULB kinesiology professor and softball coach in the early ’60s. The camp began with 80 to 100 children.
Now the camp has nearly 700 children involved with the camp. The camp has two sessions, one running from mid-June until mid-July and the second session from mid-July until mid-August.