The GREAT Summer Youth Academy is a one week day camp that inspires and empowers incoming 6th through 8th graders toward leadership within our great community. The camp is taught by uniformed police officers from the Grass Valley Police Department. The camp includes daily breakfast, lunch, and all the fun activities like 49er fun park, the pool, and so much more, all for just $125.00 tuition/week. The camp teaches a curriculum that covers effective communication skills, active listening, empathy, decision making, goal setting, anger management, calming other, avoiding peer pressure and much much more. A strong emphasis is placed on community outreach and positively impacting our community. Sign-ups are quick and easy, just download an application by visit the GREAT Summer Youth Academy website at www.greatsummeryouthacademy.com.

Ready to download the application?


6th Graders >> June 18th - 22nd

7th & 8th Graders >> June 25th -29th

Applications are due May 18th 2018!

About GSYA

Wanna learn more about the GREAT Summer Youth Academy? No problem. Just keep reading to discover more.


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What we teach

If you want to know what the GSYA teaches, then this is the information you've been looking for.

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The Staff

Our staff is dedicated to the sucess of our communitys youth. See whos making a difference.

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GSYA Partnerships

The GREAT Summer Youth Academy is a proud partner with NEO Youth Center.

About Us


We want to make a positive difference in the lives of our youth! The Grass Valley Police Department is offering an awesome opportunity for your child to attend this year’s G.R.E.A.T. Summer Youth Academy.

This one-week academy will inspire and empower your child with the life skills to become successful. Not only will they be encountering new experiences to form their life path, but they will also be building self-confidence and developing leadership skills to become responsible role models within this great community.

They’ll be taking part in fun field trips, activities, daily lessons, games, and much more. If you want to know more about the curriculum, click here.


What We Teach

The GREAT Summer Youth Academy incorporates curriculum centered on teaching life skills and leadership tools, adding hands on experiences to exemplify each lesson. Through games, role play, skits, field trips and community projects, students participating in the GSYA spend each day incorporating meaningful lessons into fun activities. The GREAT curriculum is presented to elementary and middle school students throughout the school year, however, it is during the GREAT Summer Youth Academy that these lessons can grow beyond the classroom and into real life situations. All while having FUN!


The Grass Valley GSYA lesson topics include:

  • Effective Communication (Day #1)

Communication skills, such as talking and listening, are an important part of a person’s social development.Learning to be stronger communicators will help children and adolescents in many ways. If children feel comfortable communicating their feelings to others, they will be more likely to talk about their problems. Children and adolescents who can talk about their problems are less likely to resort to dangerous and unhealthy behaviors, such as gangs, violence, drug abuse, and crime. If children are in a situation in which they are being pressured, communication skills will help empower them to be able to refuse.

Later in the day, the GSYA tours KNCO Radio Station where select students record a Public Service Announcement and bring awareness to critical issues in our community.

  • Active Listening & Empathy (Day #1)

Not only must thoughts and feelings be vocalized, they must be understood for effective communication. The listener must not only ensure that the speaker has his or her attention, the listener must let the speaker know that understanding is taking place. This is called active listening and is an important skill for children to develop as they work on their communication skills.

Students will also have the opportunity to build on their communication skills through the development of empathy towards others. Empathy is important in preventing violent activity and is also a necessary component in predicting the behavior of others. By predicting behavior, students will be able to make better decisions in regards to others.

The GSYA tours Juvenile Hall where kids see firsthand how poor decisions and negative behavior can impact ones life.

  • Anger Management and Calming Others (Day #2)

The way a person reacts to anger is like any other behavior; it easily becomes a habit if it is constantly reinforced and used. Unfortunately, many people in our society do not manage their anger well. When they get angry, they lash out in violence. The key to preventing such negative behavior is to intervene when children are young and have not yet formed longterm negative habits. If we can teach children about anger and positive ways to cope with it, it is possible that they will develop healthy anger-management techniques that will stick with them for a lifetime. Our Goal at the GSYA is to equip our students with the necessary tools to succeed.

On day #2, the Great Summer Youth Academy enjoys many group games and swims at Memorial Pool where each student undoubtedly will have on opportunity to practice their newly acquired Anger Management skills. 🙂

  • Refusal Skills (Day #3)

One of the best ways to prevent unhealthy behaviors is to avoid them. This is easier said than done, however, especially for young people. When children are exposed to unhealthy behaviors through friends or family members, they are often pressured to participate in unhealthy behaviors as well. If a child has strong refusal skills, he/she will be better equipped to resist peer pressure and less likely to succumb to the compulsion to fit in with friends. The more practice students have in refusal skills, the more likely they will be able to resist.

In this lesson, students will discuss the different ways they can refuse to do something they would normally not do. The activities in this lesson build upon the previous communication lessons by focusing not only on what the students say but on the tone of voice and body language when they say it. To further reinforce the refusal skills, the students will have the opportunity to practice.

On day three the GSYA enjoys a day at 49er Fun Park riding go-carts, minature golfing and spending their tokens playing games. This is an action packed day with loaded with fun!


  • Decision Making (Day #4)

Children often make impulsive decisions without thinking about the consequences of their actions. If children have guidance in making proper choices when they are young, it might help prevent the disastrous consequences of decisions that are made without thinking. In relation to violence prevention, children run the risk of making dangerous choices regarding violence, drug abuse, and crime. If children are encouraged to think out their decisions carefully and deliberately, they will likely develop positive decision-making habits that stay with them forever.

On Day four the GSYA enjoys a downtown Grass Valley scavenger hunt and a tour of the Grass Valley Police Department where the Decision Making lesson is taught. Later in the day the GSYA volunteers at the Hospitality House and helps feed the homeless.

  • Goal Setting (Day #5)

Adults understand that a person’s present behavior affects his or her future status. For example, deciding to commit a crime today may jeopardize one’s academic or employment opportunities in the future. Unfortunately, one of the behavioral characteristics of children and adolescents is that they tend to live for the present and not for the future. The GSYA wants to change this mind-set. We help them identify their goals for the future and then discussing how things can get in the way of reaching their goals. The more a student can link present behavior to future goals, the less likely he or she will be to risk those goals by participating in violent behavior.

We find out which career goals interest the GSYA Session and then bring professionals from within our community to speak and inspire them. In years past, weve had Singers, Swat Operators, Nurses, Dancers, Farmers, Authors, Fire Fighters, Teachers, Law Enforcement, Emergency Medical Technicans and many others. Giving them a goal and assuring them they have what it takes to reach their goal will empower them steer clear of negative behavior that might harm their future goals.

This is the last day of the GSYA where each student is can perform a talent within our GSYA 60-Second Talent Show! At 2:00pm a GSYA graduation ceremony will begin Parents youre invited so mark your calendars!


Meet Our Staff

We feel extremely lucky to have a powerhouse staff leading the GREAT Summer Youth Academy.


Officer Zack is an enthusiastic Officer that has a passion for positively impacting the children of Nevada County. Officer Zack has worked with the Grass Valley Police Department for over 12 years and  during the summer, Officer Zack is dedicated to the GREAT Summer Youth Academy where he continues his mission to educate children with leadership skills and tool for success. Officer Zack has worked as a Patrol Officer, School Resource Officer, Police Detective and Corporal for the Grass Valley Police Department. Officer Zack has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Chico State University, is a certified GREAT Instructor and is the Director of the GREAT Summer Youth Academy.

Halli Ellis-Edwards has a passion for youth and has worked in various youth programs for the last 10 years, receiving extensive training in positive youth development. Her experience ranges from Co-Founder & Director of NEO, Site Supervisor of the Lyman Gilmore After School Program, GREAT Summer Youth Academy Counselor, Teen Center Facilitator and basketball coach for the Boys and Girls Club.  In 2008, Halli Co-Founded NEO.  In 2013, Halli received her Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Santa Cruz with a major in Sociology.