Beyond The Classroom Summer Camps 2018 are underway at the innovative and fun-filled BTC right here in South Pasadena. Campers can jump in for a week, two or all of them. As school comes to a close, many families are looking for fun things and new experiences for their children and BTC offers plenty of both.
At Camp BTC, campers are invited to be inspired by special guests and from exploring the world around them through weekly field trips. Campers have the opportunity to connect and bring their imagination to life with weekly projects that utilize different medium including traditional art materials as well as recycled or reused surpluses from factories.
While keeping it green and maintaining a summer camp feel, right down to the making of s’mores, the smell of sunblock permeates as they take a weekly trip to swim at the local pool or visit the beach for fun. Various activities and games foster connection, community and friendship that provide a chance for campers to earn cute badges. Aside from the prizes that will be available for the campers to win with the tickets they earn from scavenger hunt walks around the neighborhood, the camper who earns the most badges each week will get to pie their selected counselor!
Beyond The Classroom is the brainchild of local Mom, Samantha Montes, who came here with her parents from the Philippines when she was seven years old. A vivacious and passionate advocate for children, Montes feels like a perfect fit to run interesting, child-focused after-school programs and summer camps. She has a bubbly personality and infectious laugh that greets you like a warm hug and the children clearly adore her.
Samantha grew up in Tujunga and Highland Park and studied social justice at UCLA , subsequently working as an educator in the Watts community for several years. When she had children, she decided to work closer to home and find a new way to express her activism. She worked at Pacifica Charter School where she experienced a humanistic approach to education from which she would never, and says could never, return. She saw children excited to learn. In fact, Montes says this is what drives her every day, “giving the children the opportunity to be who they are” going on to say “really the best thing to do is to nurture the essence of them as children and the rest will follow.”
After Pacifica closed, Sara Gurley at Celebration Pre-school offered her a job running an afterschool program, which became so popular they had a wait list. Montes says, “I loved it so much. I had so much fun with the children and was able to apply everything I had learned.” In 2012, Montes opened BTC with the full blessing and investment of Gurley because Celebration’s real focus is the Pre-School itself and she believed in what Montes wanted to do. When the space at 304 Pasadena became available Montes says she could suddenly visualize everything in an instant. When she saw it she says, “I heard church bells! I thought: this is it!” The space is large and airy, filled with children’s art hanging from clotheslines, an outdoor sandbox and climbing equipment, a “campfire” area, picnic tables, a reading area and library and many areas in which to create and hang out.
When asked what sets BTC apart Montes says it’s the philosophy that is behind everything they do. She says, “we believe in nurturing a child’s lifelong learning, where it is not contained in a classroom and where they just love to learn. We then apply that to the concept of helping others and serving the world; I think it’s important for children to figure out how to apply their strengths and passion and what they’ve learned towards the greater good.”
The winners in this scenario are clearly the children who are treated with respect, learn empathy and communication all while creating art, learning about the world and having a blast.