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A local youth arts summer camp has doubled in size in just one year. Movement BE Camp hosts programs in its College Area building at 68th and El Cajon Blvd.

SAN DIEGO — “When I say move, you say be,” she yelled movement BE Program founder Nate Howard during the summer camp’s “Fun Friday” event.

The summer camp of the non-profit organization Movement BE is entering its second year.

Last summer, the group held their opening ceremony for the former Payday Loan building at 68th and El Cajon.

“It’s changed a lot, it was an abandoned building and we turned it into a youth center,” said Howard, who is a professional poet himself, after recording songs with rap artists Ty Dolla $ign and Kendrick Lamar .

The young minds at the summer camp focus on creative writing, art and poetry. The 4-11 year old group recites position affirmations such as “I am happy”.

It’s 8-year-old Kayionnie Evans Nash, who is in her first year at Movement BE’s summer camp.

“I’ve never been to a summer camp with all that stuff, it’s really cool here,” Evans Nash said.

Evans Nash wants to grow up to be a police officer or firefighter and says this camp exposes her to creative ideas.

“Sometimes I really don’t want to be stuck inside the house all day, I see more adults here and it’s more fun,” Evans Nash said.

Within a year, the size of the summer camp has more than doubled to over 70 children per week.

Natalie Lopez joined last year as a former foster youth and is now a staff member.

“This place is actually the best place I have ever been, unlike others this place is equal. He’s all kinds of races, ages,” said Lopez, who serves as an illustrator.

Lopez loves diversity and says the camp is a safe place that feels like home and keeps her motivated.

“They’re going to go home with confidence, let’s face it, because this is where they give you tons of confidence,” Lopez said.

Older middle and high school kids meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays for Movement BE’s “Hip Hop and Pizza” sessions. The camp is free to all San Diego Unified students and is funded by the San Diego Foundation.

Nate Howard, who is himself a new father to a 4-month-old girl named Ozara, which means ‘wealth’, hopes the camp will continue to grow.

“To give them the opportunity to see that I am beautiful, powerful and smart, and to get them to understand the power of their words and how they tell their story, that’s our whole message,” Howard said.

The Movement BE Summer Camp runs until August 26th. Then the non-profit organization hosts an after-school program and family days on Saturdays.

CONNECTED: The youth center “Movement BE” gets a new home

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