What We Are Doing This Summer

Joey and his campers
Photo courtesy of Joey Pollack

Young Palisadians Find Their Own Camps


No two people are the same … so why should any two summer camps be the same?

According to the American Camp Association, there are more than 14,000 summer camps in the United States, covering a diverse assortment of interests, from a typical sports sleepaway to a full-on circus camp.

Palisadian teens joined the summer camp madness and found camps that best fit their interests.

Judy Zhang, a soon to be sophomore at Palisades Charter High School, attended a camp at Stanford University to showcase her debate and public speaking skills. The camp was part of  Junior State of America Summer Programs, and the course she attended was about speech and political communications.

Judy Zhang celebrates with friends at the Stanford
camp graduation.
Photo courtesy of Judy Zhang

A typical day was filled with classes and debate workshops, which she said made it hard to complete the large amount of homework assigned, which included reading a 500-page textbook, writing a 12-15-page paper, a midterm and a final.

But all of the work didn’t seem to dampen the experience for Zhang.

“At the beginning of this camp, the director said that it was going to be the best summer of my life,” Zhang said. “I didn’t believe him. However, three weeks later, I would not give up the memories I experienced in this time for all the money in the world.”

Harrison Garff, a few weeks away from his senior year at Pali High, attended a two-week, intensive music camp in the mountains of Idyllwild, California. The camp was called Idyllwild Arts, and while there, Garff played as a part of a talented orchestra and got advice from top notch coaches and conductors.

A day at the camp consisted of multiple practices, lessons and rehearsals, all of which Harrison said he enjoyed and that he felt he “was able to excel musically and socially.”

Palisadian Aina Adewumni traveled the country over her summer vacation, but almost all the traveling she did was for soccer camps. Adewumni, who will be a junior at Pali High, enrolled in soccer camps at Cal, USC, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, UCSB, Princeton, Dartmouth and Brown.

Soccer camp
Photo courtesy of Aina Adewumni

“I 110 percent enjoy these camps,” explained Adewumni, whose average day at one of the camps is jam-packed with soccer from around 8 a.m.-9 p.m. “It’s exactly what I want to be doing—honing my craft, getting ahead of my competition while they’re taking their days off.”

Another soon-to-be sophomore at Pali High attended a sleepaway summer camp, this one out of state. Joey Pollack went to the Leadership Institute at Brown University.

The two-week camp was designed to help participants become more involved in their own particular community and help make it an overall better place. The coursework at the camp generally covered the broad concepts of the economic, social and political developments of the world.

“I loved the camp so much, but because of the people I met, not the course itself,” Pollack recalled.

“I came home, and I now have a completely different perspective on the world,” he revealed. “The things we learned were meaningful to the point that they changed me. But more than that, I was changed by the people I met.”

His last summer before his senior year of high school, Jake Greanias, a member of Pali High’s track and cross country teams, spent a week of his summer at the Air Force Summer Sports Camp in Colorado Springs.

“I would definitely rather it lasted longer!” declared Greanias. The purpose of the camp was for attendees to experience Air Force Academy life while partaking in their particular sport.

Air Force camp friends
Photo courtesy of Jake Greanias

While he did have workouts and some time to train for running, Greanias had even more fun hanging out with kids from all over the country, as well as some from outside of the U.S.

“Don’t get me wrong, the camp itself was awesome,” Greanias proclaimed, “but every day at 4 p.m., we were released and were allowed to do pretty much whatever we wanted until 11.”

Because the camp was located at a military base, Greanias said that it was fairly strict during his stay.

“But the officers weren’t as soulless as some would expect,” he shared. According to Greanias, the supervising officers could be surprisingly easy going and humorous.

“My experience was overwhelmingly positive,” Jake concluded. “Hearing planes piloted by students and drills all around was actually a really cool experience.”