Photo by Emily N. Tanaka.
Thirteen local underprivileged students got a taste of entrepreneurship and deep dish pizza at Rance’s Chicago Pizza in Belmont Shore today—the first Long Beach stop of an annual weeklong camp meant to expose disadvantaged youth to new experiences in Southern California.
The day camp, called Camp Justin! and led by community leader Justin Rudd, will takes the 13 Long Beach Unified high school students, chosen through the local nonprofit Operation Jump Start, on daily surprise activities.
At the restaurant, the campers learned how to make different types of mocktails, created their own deep dish pizza and got to ask the co-owner, Rance Ruiz, about the inner workings of the pizzeria and the restaurant industry as a whole.
Ruiz founded Rance’s with his childhood friend Aaron Tofani in 2013. As Southern California natives, the restaurateurs delighted in the opportunity to give the students a chance to learn about the restaurant industry and explore the different career paths that their experience represents.
“Some of the students I noticed here today really had a knack for cooking and had some artistic nature and it was nice to give them that opportunity first hand,” Ruiz said. “Hopefully they can take away from that experience.”
The camp’s motto is “Explore. Dream. Discover.” and to camper and recent McBride High School graduate Andrea Hernandez, discovering news things with her peers is the best part of the summer experience.
“I want to explore, dream and discover with teenagers like me who are motivated, want to do something in life and make a change for the better,” Hernandez said. “All of the teenagers I’m surrounded by will help me learn new skills, enhance my social life, and turn my weaknesses into strengths.”
Editor’s note: a previous version of this article incorrectly referred to the weeklong camp as Operation Jump Start. It is in fact called Camp Justin!