On Wednesday, May 23, physical education instructor Julie Napoleon will receive an award for “Volunteer of the Year” for working at Camp Scott, a girls’ juvenile detention camp in Santa Clarita. She planned to volunteer after retiring, but after reaching out to a friend who works in former Los Angeles City Controller Wendy Greuel’s office, Napoleon decided to start work immediately. After signing up to volunteer, the court system requested that she teach yoga to teenage girls in a detention camp, because of her experience as a physical education teacher. Since last summer, Napoleon has gone to Camp Scott every Sunday afternoon to teach yoga for an hour. Napoleon said she was touched by her experience with the girls she teaches.
“[The girls from Camp Scott are] so sweet. One girl that comes all the time says she feels so free when she’s in yoga because she can escape from the camp, and it makes her feel so relaxed. That made me cry of course. It’s just a way for them to breathe and take some stress out of their lives,” Napoleon said.
Though Napoleon said going from Marlborough’s relatively privileged environment to a girls’ detention center has some obvious differences, she still finds similarities between the two all-girl environments.
“You know, they’re girls. That was just the environment they were born into, and that’s what they’re dealt. The officer said some of the girls even prefer the camp because it’s safer. They have three meals a day and they know they won’t be abused, so they prefer it to their home environment. They can even take classes and earn their high school diplomas,” Napoleon said.
When Napoleon retires, she plans to continue her volunteer work at Camp Scott, along with her volunteer work as a foster parent and in retirement homes. In addition to her volunteering, she plans to travel and spend time with her family.