April 20th 2010
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This Spring Break eight kids from the Southside After School Program,(Camp Freedom), headed west to the city of Angels with seven kids from the Eastside After School Program. One of the goals we have at Urban Promise is to establish community amongst our junior high school students where they begin to view one another as family rather than rival camps or neighborhoods. These trips over Spring Break are intended to do just that and the results were visible.
On Monday April 5th we arrived at Philadelphia International Airport bleary eyed (some of us propped up by a 4:30 a.m. visit to Dunkin Donuts for some much needed caffeine) to prepare for our early morning flight and for some of our students it was their first time on a plane-- a few kids even raised their arms to the sky as if they were on a roller coaster. Upon arrival at LAX we began what would become for many a trip of a lifetime.
We participated in many incredible activities while on our trip. For some, the highlight may have been running into each other "NASCAR style" on the go-cart track or perhaps eating the same fast-food burger as their favorite athlete or celebrity at In-and-Out-Burger. For others the highlight of the trip might have been the day at beautiful, but chilly, Lake Elsinore (water temps were frigid at best) where we all had a chance to ride a jet ski. Our fearless intern Chad logged 40 miles and
six straight hours driving everyone around the lake which gave everyone panoramic views of snow capped mountains in the distance-- a sight that none of the kids will ever forget.
The students were also able to visit the Nickelodeon Studies and saw where some of their favorite television shows are created. From "Fan Boy and Chum Chum" to "Dora the Explorer" we saw where it all happens. I believe a few students realized that there is a way to make a career out of their artistic abilities.
No trip to California would be complete without a visit to Mickey's House. It was an amazing thing to watch these kids enjoy the thrills of Space Mountain and the Tower of Terror, many of their hearts have yet to stop beating so fast from the excitement of the rides. To be able to provide them with a few totally care-free hours of pure fun was wonderful.
Our trip concluded with a trip to Universal City Walk where the kids had fun walking, talking and shopping at the same places as their favorite celebrities, followed by a red-eye flight back to Philadelphia. As I fell asleep I thought back on the fact that we brought fifteen students from Camden to the glitz and glamour of "Tinsel Town" and I remembered then and will never forget posing for pictures in the Hollywood Hills with the famed "Hollywood" sign on one side and the L.A. Skyline on the other and thinking to myself that we had an amazing time-- watching kids enjoy the sights and sounds of Los Angeles all the while growing in friendship with one another and God-- A trip of a lifetime.