For many of Westside’s Mexican American children in 1920s, ’30, and ’40s, the middle months of each year revolved around summer vacation school. There were lessons in English, other classes ranging from sewing and woodworking to music and folk dancing, and a daily half-hour of supervised play in Observation Park a short walk from the Guadalupe Center. Occasionally, classes picnicked in Penn Valley Park. Once, they were treated to a river excursion on the Steamer Majestic.
In the summer of 1921, according to the annual report of the Agnes Ward Amberg Club, summer school enrollment was almost 500 and daily attendance averaged 350. Some girls were urged to attend the local Jane Hayes Gates Institute, where millinery, dressmaking, and craft work were taught.
There was time, too, for sports including swimming. With access to the pool at West Junior High School, some 30 boys from the Guadalupe Center took swimming classes and a handful trained in lifesaving. They could participate in the city swimming meet at the end of the summer, though Ramon Lozano – sports editor of The Knight’s Spear newspaper – surmised in one story, “Our boys have a slim chance to have any honors.”
Children and an adult supervisor on a summer vacation school outing at a local park.
Boys at a summer Rotary camp sponsored by the Rotary Club in Kansas City. Believing that contact with nature was conducive to the improvement of people’s physical and moral lives, the club purchased land at Lake Jacomo in 1923 and dedicated it as a permanent youth campsite.
Children at a summer camp.
At the Little Flower Camp for Girls, established by the Catholic Women’s Club in eastern Jackson County for girls from low-income families.
Date: circa 1926
A group of boys display their handiwork – in this case, toys made during practical arts classes – at the end of summer vacation school.
Children display crafts made during summer vacation school.
Children returning from a summer Salvation Army camp. It is believed that the nation’s first Salvation Army camp was held in Kansas City’s northeast Fairmount Park in 1897.
Swimming at camp.
Date: circa 1926
Campers at what is identified as Maura Hill Campus Camp.
Children and their teachers – the two nuns at right center – mark the end of summer vacation school.