Letters to the Editor

Keep outdoor education

My name is Kathleen Mayorga. I am a senior at Bellarmine Preparatory School in Tacoma. Since my sophomore year, I have been actively involved in the outdoor education program at Camp Thunderbird. Camp Thunderbird is funded by the state and allows sixth-graders in the Federal Way school district to participate in an invigorating experience with nature and other students. The camp does not strictly focus on the science aspect, but spends a bigger chunk of time focusing on social and emotional growth.

Upon research and rumors, I have heard that the outdoor education program for Federal Way might be cut in light of Washington’s approach to the $2.4 billion budget shortfall. Federal Way is facing a cut of $8 million directly and sees the approach to getting rid of outdoor education as “creative funding.” Hearing this made me deeply disturbed because of my own personal experience as a sixth-grader at that camp and as a high school leader. I have seen and felt the impact that the week at Summit Lake can do to those kids I lead and my own peers.

It is ironic that they use “creative” as the adjective to name this funding, because the word usually alludes to something positive. Taking away Camp Thunderbird is detrimental to these sixth-graders. For some, this week is the only time they feel loved, good about themselves, get full meals and realize that there is hope despite despair.

I firmly belive that the district can be more resourceful in its funding. To eliminate Camp Thunderbird would show that as citizens of Federal Way, we do not care about our youth.

Kathleen Mayorga

Northeast Tacoma

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