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RSF resident’s Club Xcite, a youth mentorship organization, launches weekly summer camps
Founded two years ago by Rancho Santa Fe resident Stefan Hochfilzer, Club Xcite, a youth mentorship organization, will kick off its first weekly summer camps this year. Hochfilzer said Club Xcite’s camps are different from other summer camps due to their personalized attention with- in the context of small groups.
The summer camp groups meet everyday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and spend time at various locales – from San Die- guito Park to Del Mar Beach – depending on the days. The groups work on activities and games less competitive in nature and more intended for problem solving and working as a team in which there are no winners and losers. “The reason I am in this field and have such a passion forthis is when I was younger I had a big stuttering problem and that really affected me socially,” said Hochfilzer. “Through tennis, where I had a mentor, is how I grew out of it and gained confi- dence, and it made a world of dif- ference to bring me out of my shell, and then I actually had a tennis program for two years in Del Mar teaching kids.”
Hochfilzer, 24, a business graduate of UC Berkeley, estab- lished Club Xcite subsequent to his time as a professional in the corporate world in the field of consulting. “I had a vision to work with kids that need that extra helping hand, that extra boost, kids with learning disabilities, self-esteem issues, maybe they have social awkwardness or have a hard time making friends or have speech impediments,” said Hochfilzer.
“These are the kids who need the most help and the one-on-one mentorship. That’s what we are all about.” Club Xcite Program Director Ben Erion, who is also a client manager, is a business graduate as well, also spent some time in the corporate world and actually met Hochfilzer through a local men- toring program.
“These are kids who aren’t necessarily considered the cool kids, kids that might be last to be picked for basketball or four- square, something as simple as that, we just want to make sure that we give those kids the extra little push that they may need, whether it be academic or athletic or social,” said Erion, 25, a Ran- cho Penasquitos resident “Our goal is to encourage with positive reinforcement.”
Poway resident Carmen Groe has one child, a 13-year-old middle private school student, who has shown academic improvements from the mentor- ing program in which a mentor comes to the house twice a week.
“This is just what our son needed,” said Groe. “He was able to pick the mentor himself and he really fits in being that he has a background in baseball and sports in general and is actually an edu- cation major in college. Since joining in mid-February, our son’s grades have gone up and the men- tor and him have a great rapport. We are going to continue with our mentor throughout the summer as a way to try to get a head start for school next year.”
The program is unique in that mentors with Club Xcite come into the homes of enrolled fami- lies and help a child in a one-on- one atmosphere with their school- work, athletics or any other kind of activity recommended by the parents.
“We ask the parents, ‘Tell us exactly what your wish list is for your child.’ The great thing about what we do is that we can hand select who we want to go in there and fulfill those goals,” added Erion. “We really try to specialize on the individual and make it per- sonal as possible.”
Mentors are able to pick up a child up from school and work in the home or at an open communi- ty facility. Club Xcite is based in Rancho Santa Fe and serves chil- dren all throughout San Diego County, with the majority living in the immediate north coastal region.
“We have so many great mentors that we can choose from that we can really match the skills and interests of the child to the mentor,” said Hochfilzer.
The average mentor ranges in age from 22 to 25, with the oldest about 27. The mentors are college students, recent college graduates or graduate school students who are usually majoring/majored in the fields of psychology, teaching or counseling. They have worked with children in the past as tutors or athletic instructors. Mentors meet with a child between two to four times each week.
“There can be a lot of strug- gle between parents and children in terms of getting homework done and things like that because parents are in that role where they bark orders and a lot of parents come to us because they are con- stantly fighting with their kids,” said Hochfilzer. “When a mentor is involved, they will come over and say something like, ‘Hey, let’s get this homework done and then we can go outside and have some fun and play.’”
Club Xcite offers different types of programs from an after- school mentorship program to a strictly academic tutoring program to athletic instruction to social developmental mentoring to a program geared for children with learning disabilities.
“Parents come home and they are amazed at what has been accomplished and it takes so much tension out of the parent- child relationship,” said Erion. “So, when they come home everything is done and they can actually spend time with their child. We don’t go into situations and try to change what’s going on. For instance, if there is a psychol- ogist or psychiatrist or a counselor or a coach, there are tons of peo- ple giving a child input and direc- tions. We go in and try to support those ideas yet provide new and exciting ways to do it. We try to make it a natural flow for the fam- ily.”
Mentors’ responsibilities include assisting the child in the completion of their homework, academic tutoring in problem areas, involving a child in social events and activities and acting as a positive role model. Club Xcite currently has 50 children enrolled, and more than 30 mentors who commit to at least six months to the job so as to provide some con- tinuity for the child.
“We have background checks and we hold about 10 to 15 interviews a week of prospec- tive mentors and out of that, we are excited if we get one or two,” said Erion. “We take one or two of those candidates to the family and then the child and parents interview the mentor again and they get to have their pick among three to four mentors.”
With summer just around the corner, Club Xcite will launch its summer program featuring one mentor assigned to three children at a time.
Del Mar resident Katherine White enrolled her 13-year-old son in the program about four months ago and around the same time his school Edison School in Encinitas hired Club Xcite for a lunchtime social intervention pro- gram.
“I love this program, I think it’s really helped my son in having a young, male role model; my son doesn’t do very well in large groups and one of the things his mentor, Jimmy, has done has got him out doing thing and talking to people that he wouldn’t have done otherwise,” said White. “He really feels like Jimmy is his friend, somebody who is there just for him. I feel like Club Xcite has really listened to me as far as what I wanted and they are so accommodating.”
For more information, visit Club Xcite on the Web at www.exciteway.com or contact Club Xcite at (858) 779-9674 or [email protected]
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Phone: (858) 779.9674