Westmorland Summer Camp is exploration into skills and fun

Meghan Smedley, Senior, Palo Verde 4-H leadership project, runs the summer camp along with other 4-H senior members
Meghan Smedley, Senior, Palo Verde 4-H leadership project, runs the summer camp along with other 4-H senior members

WESTMORLAND – What does a small, poor town do in the heat of the summer when their one and only activity for children is down for the second year? They do what they have always done, pulled up their bootstraps, figured out their assets, and turned a negative into a positive.


Shannon Abatti runs 4 summer camps for her job with the Imperial Valley Housing Authority. She also runs the Imperial County 4-H program.


Combining her expertise with the City of Westmorland and the Westmorland Lions Club, Abatti put together a program that offers youth a taste of 4-H, 4-H juniors and seniors a chance to work toward medals and stars in a leadership project over the summer, and everyone learns woodworking, leather craftsmanship, and every day science is explored.


On Thursday, everyone was going to learn how to create slime, AKA flubber.


Abatti said they started with 30 kids but anticipate 70 by the end of the week. “We just keep growing. More and more kids keep showing up!”


The adults in Westmorland were concerned that their community pool was still empty. Local kids have very little to do in their community. This will be the second year in a row the pool sits disabled in the middle of the town.


Councilwoman Maryanne Smith is in charge of fixing the pool. She applied for the IID grant money coming from fallowing, but their application was rejected.


Shannon Abatti
Shannon Abatti

According to City Clerk Sally Traylor, they don’t even have the funds to figure out why their pool is leaking.


Smith said, “We figured there was a leak because every time we filled it up, it emptied out and water was everywhere.”



Constructed in 1938, the Westmorland Community Swimming Pool was part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt ‘s Works Progress, an arm of the New Deal.


The City of Westmorland Swimming Pool and Restroom facilities have provided swimming lessons and recreation opportunities to its residents for over 75 years.


As a result of natural wear and tear over the years, the pool in its current condition will not hold water.  In addition, the city is faced with new building code regulations and ADA accessibility standards, so the pool and its restroom facility need renovations.


Estimates for these upgrades come in around $275,000, which is substantially cheaper than building a new pool, according to Smith.


As noted, they have applied for monies, without success.


To reach their financial goals with this project, they have teamed up with the Imperial Valley Community Foundation as a means of facilitating charitable giving toward the renovating of their pool and other community needs that concern the citizens of Westmorland.


If interested in giving, visit  http://www.ivcommunityfoundation.org/  – Then go to How-to-give-Westmorland on the very bottom.


Smith said, “Our Pool is the number one place for children activities during the summer.  So, with the pool not available, the Westmorland City Council voted unanimously on the proposal of teaming up with the 4-H Youth Development Program to provide a Summer Day Camp.“


On Tuesdays and Thursdays, they provide projects for the children to learn skills they can take home with them and use.


On Wet Water Wednesdays – They have water slides and water balloon games and activities.  On Thursdays, in addition to project skills, They will introduce experiments using 4-H Science, Engineering and Technology (SET) Curriculum.


Smith added, “The goal is to provide not only educational experiences, but to keep our kids out of the canals!”


The program thus far has been successful.  Both Abatti and Smith agree it would not have been possible without volunteers stepping up from both the citizens of Westmorland and the 4-H Youth Development Program.