Very Important Kids Camp Makes Islander Impact on Local Youth

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Summer camps at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi are not just enriching places for young kids to learn and grow, they also benefit Islander students. One such camp is the Very Important Kids (VIK) Camp, which is co-hosted by the Antonio E. Garcia Arts & Education Center, the Art Museum of South Texas and the Island University’s College of Science and Engineering (COSE).

The 4-week camp provides education in arts, drama, reading and STEM in a relaxed atmosphere where kids don’t have to worry about getting tested or graded on their work like in school. This allows camp goers to thrive in a low-stress environment that inspires a love of learning.

“We know we’re making an impact. We’re changing the lives of so many kids,” said Sebastian Garzon, director of the Garcia Center. “Children come to our camp to have a summer of fun and learning instead of staying at home where they might not get that mental stimulation.”

For the first week of VIK Camp, local children learned about comic book and cartoon art in the morning and robotics in the afternoon, including the basics of computer programming from Mayra Alvarado, COSE engineering recruitment and STEM outreach coordinator and Curriculum and Instruction Ph.D. candidate.

“It was really cool to work with the robots,” said Sarah Reyna, a 10-year-old Kostoryz Elementary student. “We got to test them out and try to make them not bump into things. It was really fun.”

Roy Reyna, Sarah’s father, works full-time and has three children.

“My kids get so much out of the curriculum, from art to reading to robotics,” he said. “I know this camp is wonderful because when I pick up my kids, they are excited to tell me about the friends they made and what they learned.”

This is the second summer that Kayla Buhr, a senior interdisciplinary studies student from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, has acted as a teacher for the VIK Camp.

“I’ve had some teaching experience, but I was under the supervision of a full-time teacher. So, I mostly just helped her and let her take the lead,” said Buhr. “Working here has given me a confidence boost to know I can lead my own classroom.”

VIK Camp has also allowed Buhr to share her love of reading. She was excited to introduce one of her favorite books, “Wonder,” to her 4th grade students. Buhr, who wants to be a special education teacher after graduation, used this book to teach her campers how to treat those with disabilities with respect and kindness.

VIK Camp is one of the most affordable camps in the city, only charging $100 a week with a fifty percent discount for siblings. While the camp is currently at capacity, interested parents can call 361.825.3600 to check availability or learn more about the Garcia Center’s many different programs for children and families.