Camp Mercy Participants

Camp Mercy Brings Fun to Educational Programming

For the past two years, Mercy Housing California (MHC) has partnered with the UC Davis BETA (Builder, Engineer, Tinker, Adapt) Labs to work with youth residents at a Sacramento-area elementary school and the surrounding neighborhood. The work and partnership with UC Davis BETA Labs was supported through grants from the Armstead Academic Project. Last Spring, MHC, and UC Davis BETA Labs offered a 12-week STEAM program for 6th graders focusing on building pet robots using coding and computers.

Camp Mercy Friends
Making friends at Camp Mercy

Encouraged by the success of the STEAM program, we extended our collaboration with UC Davis BETA Lab students to develop STEAM activities for onsite Resident Services staff to implement as part of Mercy Housing’s Out-of-School Time (OST) summer programming. Camp Mercy 2023 served as the pilot launch for these new activities. Camp Mercy takes place at MHC properties across the state. We received generous support for the program in the Sacramento area from the Mercy Foundation and their donors.

“Hands-on fun science projects give youth a fresh and less intimidating experience with science and math,” explained  Resident Services Manager, Kylie French.

Activities Full of STEAM

Held annually in June and July, Camp Mercy is a four to five-week summer camp for youth residents across California. For 356 youth participating in the camp at 15 Sacramento communities, a typical day at camp included STEAM, Art, and Physical activities. While the kids focused on learning and having fun, parents were able to use the time to run errands, work, or get things done around the house.

“Camp Mercy was a great and convenient summer program my two kids (Myla, age 10, and Jose, age 12) were able to attend. They were able to socialize and had lots of fun with all the fun activities they did, like making propeller cars and playing water games outside. Not only was Camp Mercy great for the kids it was great for mom (me) to get things done around the house, or just have quiet time that is sometimes much needed,” said Christie, parent of two Camp Mercy participants.

Scribble Bot Activity
Her smile says it all!

Camp Mercy’s STEAM Activities included making Propeller Cars and Scribble Bots using small motors and batteries, LED Paper Circuits (Light Up Cards), Paper Drumsticks, Craft Stick harmonics, and Music Shakers.

Creativity Can Be Found Everywhere

When it came time for Arts and Crafts, children were encouraged to tap into their creativity by using common household and craft supplies to create self-portraits and mosaics. Additionally, Camp Mercy youth put their chef hats on and made slime and ice cream in a bag.

“I love summer programs because it’s just fun stuff instead of homework,” youth resident Ayesha shared.

At the end of each day, Camp Mercy youth took time to reflect on the activities they participated in and shared their thoughts with other kids and staff.

This young man used nature to make his self-portrait.

MHC Resident Services Coordinator Amy summed up the successful pilot summer camp program saying, “I enjoy our summer program because we can really be laid back and have fun with the curriculum. Programming is fun during the school year as well, but there is just a more relaxed, less structured feel to Camp Mercy!”

Camp Mercy saw a total of 481 youth participate across California communities over the summer.