Faced with continuing limitations on community events due to COVID-19 precautions, members of the Soboba Youth Council have had to get creative. The new school year began with classes still meeting online, so the young people decided to set up an outdoor Back-to-School Scavenger Hunt on Aug. 28.
Students of all ages were invited to participate in the event which consisted of taking a photo of themselves at each of the three clues that were displayed throughout the Soboba Indian Reservation, starting at the Sports Complex. Some youth council members were at the first clue location to explain the hunt while other members were at the final spot to verify all photos and give each student a raffle ticket to write their name on.
About an hour after the event began, Soboba Youth Council Chairwoman Iyana Briones, logged onto the group’s Instagram account where a live drawing was held to choose six winners. Those students were asked to come to the Sports Complex to choose from one of four backpacks or two metal mesh desktop baskets filled with school supply themed gifts that were assembled individually by each youth council member. A donation by Juliana Briones helped with item purchases.
Ideas for a fun way to get school kids out and about while they are distance learning at home were brainstormed during a recent Soboba Youth Council meeting. Along with Chairwoman Briones, other current members are Vice Chairman Edwin Muro, Secretary Tatiana “Roo” Briones, Treasurer Ciara Ramos and Members-at-Large Jeremiah Ramos and Crystal Devore.
Ciara Ramos said the group is always looking for more youth to get involved, accepting anyone ages 13 through 18. She said more members will provide more ideas and more hands to help get the work done.
“We had our last meeting over the phone,” said Iyana Briones, a sophomore at Noli Indian School. “It took us about two hours to come up with this idea and all the clues.”
Clue one, posted at the Sports Complex, read: “While you’re up and around, go to the place where you’re six feet underground.” When Samuel Venegas read it, he immediately knew it was referring to the Soboba Cemetery and urged his mom, Antonia, to hurry up and get back to the car. Clue two of “Find your way up the road, to the pit where stories are told” led players to The Oaks at the end of Castile Canyon Road. The third clue posted there told readers to “Go back down the road but go slow, to a school zone where all the young kids go” which led them to the Soboba Tribal Preschool.
Youth council co-coordinator Andy Silvas, who also serves as Soboba’s Parks & Recreation Department Director, said he enjoys watching the young members develop projects and then implement them to a successful conclusion.
Last month, the youth collected donations of non-perishable food items, bottled water, hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies to send to Navajo Nation elders and families affected by COVID-19. The group’s next scheduled event will be a socially distanced drive-in movie at The Oaks on Sept. 11. Intertribal Sports is hosting the event with youth council members operating the snack bar while taking orders via phone. The free movie will give families a chance to do something together outside the home.
Photos courtesy of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians