Brando Galeno was already feeling the dog days of summer catch up.
The Oak View Elementary School fourth-grader had spent his time out of school sleeping, watching TV and playing video games. Then the Oak View Family Resource Center started its two-week summer day camp, and Brando was back kicking a soccer ball with his friends.
"I was bored," the 9-year-old said, adding that he missed the social activity of being in class.
For that matter, he was also lucky. The resource center's annual summer camp can only enroll 120 participants, but this year, the program got an overflow of parents wanting to sign their children up. Part of the reason: The Huntington Beach City School District had canceled summer school this year for all but special-education students due to budget cuts, and many kids were at a loss to fill their time.
Last year, day camp coordinator Beatriz Flores said, some parents were still signing up their children at the door on the first day of camp. This year, all 120 spots were booked by the start of June, and about 200 students remained on the waiting list.
"I'd like to be able to enroll all the students and give them a safe haven for a little bit," Flores said. "But unfortunately, we can only have so many kids in the program."
The day camp, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to noon Mondays through Fridays, allows kids to play sports, do arts and crafts and other activities. Each week has a theme, which is often accompanied by at least one field trip; next week, when the topic shifts to outer space, the kids plan to tour the Boeing exhibit at the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana.
The resource center at 17261 Oak Lane serves one of Huntington Beach's lowest-income areas, with an after-school program and other family services offered year-round. Camp Fire USA, a youth development nonprofit with its local headquarters in Santa Ana, oversees the after-school program and day camp; many children are signed up for both.
Even though the camp lasts only two weeks and ends at noon, some parents said they appreciated giving their children an added diversion. Marisela Santillan, who works as a housekeeper, said she had been bringing her daughter to work for the first few weeks of the summer. Next year, she said in Spanish through a translator, she hoped the district could afford to bring back summer school.
"My daughter would rather be at summer school than going around with me," Santillan said.