Tribal members gather together ◆ By Mike Hiles
Youth that participated in this year's Summer Youth Academy were treated to an opportunity to attend the third annual Native Youth Gathering summer camp earlier this month at San Onofre Beach at Camp Pendleton as the program came to a close.
The trip is coordinated as part of the Tribal Education Alliance, which includes Soboba TANF, Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Association, Pechanga TANF and Pechanga Youth Department and Inaja.
"We had done our own youth camp for many years but during a Tribal Education Alliance (TEA) collaboration meeting we, along with Pechanga, were interested in collaborating on this event which we have done for the past two years with great success," said Crystal Ruiz, Program Specialist at the Soboba Tribal TANF Prevention Resource Center at the Soboba Reservation.
Eighty youth participated in this year's camp, which included 18 from Soboba TANF's Summer Youth Academy program. The event was open to those 12 to 19 years old and all students had an opportunity to participate in all activities.
On August 4, the first day of camp, Native Challenge engaged the youth in ice breakers and group activities.
"Junior Cuero presented the Kumeyaay Creation story and everyone shared s’mores around the campfire," Ruiz said. "On Saturday, youth had the option to participate in paintball or use the free time for cultural crafts (making agave sandals) and beach time. Myra Masiel presented the Luiseño Creation story."
Soboba tribal youth that attended the camp were Abigail Arres, Asona Arres, Hattie Arres, Ayalkawut Boniface, Adriana Briones, Caitlyn Briones, Michael Briones, Tatianna Briones, Chance Erb, Edwin Muro, Francisca Rivera, Tanya Rivera and Carmel Valenzuella.
The Soboba Parks and Recreation department hosted an End of Summer Bash for families to have one last chance to share some outdoor fun before school work and activities took over their children’s spare time.
On August 26, about 100 guests gathered at the Soboba Sports Complex to enjoy some good old-fashioned fun such as playing horseshoes, swimming and cheering on their favorites during a watermelon-eating contest.
Newborns to elders shared food, fun and games under the shade of large trees scattered around the complex’s grounds. Organized by Jennifer DeVore-Garcia, Activities Director for Soboba Parks and Recreation, this is the first year the event has been offered.
"We geared this toward water- and family-oriented activities because that is what the community wanted," DeVore-Garcia said. "We provided the tacos, beans and rice and other foods were donated by families and a few of the elders."
Most of the youngest attendees stayed cool by splashing in the pool or getting wet on the giant water slide while adults visited with family and friends as they sipped cold water, lemonade or punch.
The watermelon-eating contest was broken down by age groups and the slices got larger as the kids got older. Among the first group, Candice DeVore, 5, was declared the winner by finishing her slice first. The next contest was won by Adam Lopez, 8 and Crystal DeVore, 10, was the victor in the final group.
A water balloon toss game and some water slide kickball kept the guests busy and wet during the hot afternoon. By the end of the event at 2 p.m., it had accomplished what it set out to do: let families have fun together to mark the end of summer.