Daniel Palma’s family is proud of him for completing the three-week Coachella Summer Youth Program.
But, they’re just as surprised.
“I knew he wasn’t going to like it,” said Daniel’s mom, Irene Zavala, “because he’s missing out on his summer vacation.”
It turns out the program was well worth it. Daniel and 19 other students took several field trips, including the Marine Corps Recruiting Depot in San Diego. Now, Daniel is convinced he wants to be a marine.
“My uncles are in it, and they inspired me,” he said. When told that boot camp was difficult, Daniel said: “Yeah, I saw them doing push ups, and one guy almost threw up!”
The purpose of the summer program is to expose the students to a life of public service — perhaps inspiring them to pursue a career in law enforcement.
“You get to help a lot of people. That’s very interesting,” said Maria Huerta, 12. “I would be a detective or forensics.”
The students are handpicked by their teachers and principals. Law enforcement officials say students consider it their reward for going in the right direction.
“They’re students who’ve had good grades, no disciplinary action, and good attendance throughout the school year,” said Lt, Frank Taylor, of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department.
The program is funded by the Coachella Police Department and the City of Coachella.