The historic grounds of Pena Adobe played host to several different activities Wednesday, including a potato sack race, tour of the home of Vacaville’s earliest settlers and a firetruck parked just outside the property.
In other words, it was just another day for the kids of Camp Adobe.
The 10-week camp commenced for the year June 6 to give area youth a chance to take in the great outdoors at Pena Adobe Historical Park and beyond. Recreation specialist Jonathan Tapia said campers do everything from hiking to archery to swimming to arts and crafts to building forts out of wood.
This year, the camp has had a Harry Potter “Wizards in the Woods” theme, which has brought the kids to places such as Rush Ranch and a tour of the Yolo Bypass conducted by the University of California, Davis where campers learned about different wildlife .
Wednesday had three different activities going on. The first was a tour of the Pena Adobe, the home of the Pena and Vaca families who settled in the area in 1842. There, docent Cricket Kanouff provided the youngsters with information on the two families and told them how shoes were made and how irons were used in the days before electricity.
The second activity was a potato sack race, where groups of campers climbed into individual bags and tried to hop to one end and back before the others. They were cheered on by docent Armando Perez, who in the past has regaled campers with stories of Indigenous history, as he provided words of encouragement as campers bounced toward the finish line.
Some of the kids easily made it, others tumbled, but all appeared to have a good time. At one point, they even opted for a foot race.
The centerpiece of the day’s activities was a visit from Cal Fire, which brought both a firetruck and bulldozer to the camp and showed them off.
Capt. Matt Stark of the Sonoma Lake Napa Unit told The Reporter he was particularly excited to showcase the bulldozer.
“That’s one of our big firefighting tools that, a lot of the times, they don’t get too close to,” he said.
The kids got to climb onto the bulldozer and see the controls, and they also got a tour of the fire engine. Stark showed off the levers to the pump, the compartments where uniforms and equipment are stored, the defibrillator – which he described as being like jumper cables for people -, burn kits, and the self-contained breathing apparatuses.
“It’s a closed system,” he said. “Nothing gets in once we put them on.”
The firefighters also had the campers lift the type of backpacks firefighters have to carry to show how heavy they are.
A highlight for many appeared to be when the campers were given a demonstration of the high-pressure fire hoses, which Stark described as being like “a Super Soaker with a five-gallon reservoir.” The kids were all given an opportunity to fire the hoses themselves, as they were instructed to try to spray three traffic cones that served as stand-ins for flames.
In the end, the campers were given puzzle books, stickers, and souvenir fire helmets.
Stark said the goal was to educate campers about safety and make them aware that the Fire Department is nothing to be afraid of.
“Usually when we have to help them out, things are not at their best,” he said. “(This is) just to let them know that we’re here to help them and show them some of the tools we get to use, hopefully maybe inspire them to get to come and join our forces someday.”
Tapia said he hopes the campers have an overall positive experience.
“I hope they’ll get a new appreciation for the outdoors and being able to make friends and create memories that they’ll remember when they’re adults,” he said.