In Seattle, Starfish Corps is a City Year led after-school program at Dearborn Park Elementary, Roxhill Elementary and Wing Luke Elementary. Starfish promotes big citizenship and teaches lessons around concepts such as community service, promoting peace and healthy living. City Year Seattle also holds two overnight retreats each year for the Starfish Corps to allow students from different areas of Seattle to interact, as well as form even stronger bonds with their City Year mentors and tutors.
For an entire month, third grade student Alina* asked my team at Roxhill Elementary every day, several times a day, when the next Starfish retreat would take place.
On Friday, March 25th, Alina’s wait finally came to an end. Approximately 60 elementary school students from three City Year Seattle schools arrived at 7:00 p.m. to attend the “Around the World” Starfish retreat. After a snack provided by PCC Natural Markets in Admiral Way, the students created passports complete with name, date of birth, school, and a picture ID taken via instant film. These passports were their tickets to traveling the world with their City Year mentors.
The next day, students were sleepy after a night spent in the school cafeteria and gym but they soon perked up after breakfast. Before the students could depart for their world travels, they received pilot wing pins, a gift from Alaska Airlines, and designed their own imaginary continents. Then City Year corps members took students for a trip around the world as they taught students how to salsa dance in South America, throw boomerangs in Australia, compete in soccer competitions in South Africa, play Bump It in China, and Pass the Parcel in England.
Tat’s Delicatessen, which has supported several City Year retreats, provided our young and hungry travelers with turkey, roast beef, ham and vegetarian sandwiches while Giannoni’s Pizza provided the adult volunteers with pizza. An impromptu dance party marked the conclusion of the retreat, and students ran around saying good-bye to new friends before leaving.
On Monday, I asked Alina what she thought of the retreat. Her eyes widened and she said, “It was awesome! We got to play games! The food was so good and we had recess! I like how we did the crafts and stuff and I liked how we made the passports and I liked the movie. And I liked meeting the other kids and playing around with my friends and meeting and playing with the other City Years!”
The only problem is . . . now she’s started asking about the next Starfish Retreat.