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September 3, 2010

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September 3, 2010

I can easily say that my time with UniCamp was the most fulfilling and rewarding experience I had in college. Never have I worked with such a diverse and committed group of young individuals. To sum it all up I'd say that while it is our role as volunteers to instill values of community, self-confidence and potential, and teamwork, often the campers are the ones teaching us about acceptance, determination and humility. During my most recent week volunteering, a camper had to leave 3 days into the trip due to health issues. He barely talked and up until then we weren't sure he was enjoying his time at camp. During the last few hours before he left, the rest of the campers in our group basically rushed him with happy notes, camp craft bling, and sincere hugs/handshakes/farewells from their hearts. I was so impressed with their level of maturity and compassion to the kid we weren't sure had made friends. My favorite part was watching one of the boys from his cabin give him a firm handshake and a sincere goodbye; who knew 16 year-olds did handshakes? There's clear proof in the effectiveness of the program when you see kids come back for years and years (several of my campers have been going to UniCamp for 6+ years! more than my most seasoned co-advisor). Some of them even sign up for another session within the same summer. I'm sure you'll read people talking about "Woodsey Magic" and it's true, taking these kids out of the city can really give them the freedom and a mild amount of anonymity, to define themselves on their own terms for once. Not to mention the underestimated benefit of just being surrounded by the raw nature of the San Bernardino mtns. While I was walking with a couple of kids at camp, I continually had to tell him to put down the sticks he kept picking up, for fear that he'd throw it or accidentally trip and hurt someone. Finally he turn and said, with real earnest, "You know why I always pick up sticks, Duckie? It's because in LA we don't have sticks like these, or trees really..." It's evident in everyone's mannerisms that the natural surrounding at Camp Riverglen helps slow the heart rate and really let you relax. Some have even said that they lose the anxiety of clock watching and schedules at camp. My co-advisers and campers from this past summer recently had a beach reunion before everyone went back to school. They really pushed for it to happen; and seeing how they just clicked again and even now continue to meet up and stay connected is more than I could ever ask for. Thanks UniCamp for making my college experience worth every summer :)

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

how I approach people in general and especially new acquaintances. See more in the body of my review.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

have more summer sessions involved. The session sizes of volunteers has come down in the past year, but it is so competitive to get in with the amount of applicants each summer.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

getting to know my campers and keeping in touch with them after the week ends.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

almost always amazing! Everyone had such a great story behind them and it was always humbling to get to know them and I feel that breaks lots of stereotyping barriers.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

have state-of-the art sports facilities! And of course provide the Woodsey experience to many many more, possibly even with another campsite in a different county.

Ways to make it better...

I could do it again with exactly the same people from this summer.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

continuity with respect to people being able to volunteer in leadership and director roles.

One thing I'd also say is that...

it is a truly unique experience and I hope it doesn't fundamentally change over the years due to the dynamic nature of the volunteer body.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

September 3, 2010

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September 3, 2010

My time at UCLA (and still today) would not have been the same without UniCamp. I've been involved for six years now and have learned a great deal about community, inspiration, and leadership. As large as Los Angeles is, these kids that come from all over the area are able to make lasting relationships with each other because they are able to see and support each other year after year. I've been fortunate enough to have campers in high school that have been coming to UniCamp since they were eight years old, and these older campers have become role models for the younger campers. The younger kids look up to the older campers and see what they could become, and in turn the older campers are able to give them support that maybe a UCLA student wouldn't be able to provide. This sense of community that UniCamp fosters week after week and year after year never ceases to amaze me. Through the confidence and relationships our campers build at UniCamp, they have been able to exceed even their own expectations. They have been able to ride a bike for the very time, build a bridge across a river, hike to the summit of the highest mountain in Southern California, sing a song solo in front of the entire camp, and so much more. Being able to be a part of these experiences with them and knowing that my support helped them reach their goals is a great feeling that I don't think I would be able to get in my normal 9-5 day. Their perseverance and just plain gutsiness is an inspiration to me because I can't even imagine having gone through some of their experiences that they have back in LA. Yet there they are at camp, smiling and laughing. Not only is UniCamp a great experience for the campers, but also for the volunteers as well. I have gained leadership skills from this organization every single year I have been involved. Not having any experience in a camp setting or with kids from UniCamp's population, being a counselor for young girls was a huge test for myself to see how I would handle it. I learned a lot that year about balancing being their friend while also keeping them safe and in check. This past camp season I was a guide on the W.A.L.L. hikes where I led them on four-day, three-night hikes to Mt. San Gorgonio and provided first aid. From this I had to learn to be confident in the decisions I made because what I did would affect their safety on the hike. I love UCLA UniCamp, and I really can't imagine how my life would be like now without it. I've met incredible campers and volunteers alike, and they're all who I keep coming back for every year.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

every year that I have been involved because the camper and volunteer populations are so diverse that every session is different. The skills and ideas I've learned from UniCamp will stay with me a lifetime.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

being surrounded by all of the kids! They're so talented and funny, and they have a lot to offer our community.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

very diverse and all really friendly! The volunteers come from all kinds of other organizations at UCLA, so it makes for a great mix of people who are open and imaginative.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

give scholarships to all of the campers to help them get into college, and then help pay for college once they go.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

September 3, 2010

more

September 3, 2010

Having grown up in some of Los Angeles' lesser-priveldged and often dangerous neighborhoods, I know what it's like to attend schools and grow up in a community where the desire for personal attention, artistic integrity and general influence often goes unfulfilled... As a councilor for 2 sessions while studying at UCLA, I had the opportunity to work with youth who entered UniCamp thinking they were "underprivileged" or lesser in many ways, yet left feeling empowered and having gained the tools necessary to gain confidence, education and help in many facets of their home and school life. I've received several letters from past campers who have attested to the influence of UniCamp in their lives and named their experiences at camp and a big reason (if not THE reason) that they pursued a journey that they otherwise never would have... whether it was college, finishing high school, leaving home or straightening out a formerly-dangerous lifestyle. UniCamp holds a very special place in my heart and hope it's influence on the youth of Los Angeles continuously gains the support and recognition it deserves.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

all aspects of my life. As a councilor, I've learned the great influence a role model can have on those who look up to him or her when put in a position with tools... with the time to truely teach something great that will materialize for the subjects

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

not change a thing. I just hope that funding for this organization continues and grows in a way that will allow for more youth to experience the wonderful camp.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Helping children on a personal level and providing life-long skills and memories that will empower them to grow and empower others in their communities.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

impeccable people with a true passion for helping others.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

help millions of kids who never thought they'd get through high school go to college. More people would be empowered with real life skills and confidence to support themselves and in turn their communities and country.

Ways to make it better...

... it could not have been better.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

funding. Many more campers should be invited from different schools, yet affording this time is a challenge.

One thing I'd also say is that...

UniCamp saves lives.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2005

September 3, 2010

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September 3, 2010

I found out about this organization my second year of my undergraduate study at UCLA it has definitely been the highlight of my college experience. Through this organization I was able to make a difference- showing these kids what camping is all about, to show them that they can get away from any troubles or problems at home and be a kid at camp. It's great to see these kids in their natural setting and how much they really appreciate being there. They are open to the programming we do with them and at the end of the week when they thank us for their experience, that's when I know it's all worth it. I remember my first camp experience where one camper opened up to me about her family problems and to be able to be there as a listener made me feel like I was helping her out. These campers share so many things with me that are beyond what I know and somehow I feel like they teach me more than I can ever teach them. By far, this organization has brought together great UCLA student volunteers to serve as role models as well as a great bunch of kids whom are always willing to take the challenge of camp.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

When I am up at camp with the kids is when the camp magic happens and everything comes together. The kids, the student volunteers, the laughs, and the challenges all come together in a melody.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the lifelong friends I've made and the amazing week I get to spend with the kids. They are simply stellar and definitely appreciate the impact volunteers make.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

amazing.... Each person brings their own little spark to this organization

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Buy more land to offer more kids the opportunity to experience the UniCamp magic.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About once a year

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

September 3, 2010

more

September 3, 2010

Rarely do you find an experience as unique and rewarding as UniCamp. From LSHIP training to volunteer training to the week of camp, everyone involved has the right mindset and strives for selflessness. Helping others never felt so good. Thanks, UniCamp. Next summer will be even better!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

...what does this even mean?

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

seeing each child's smile at the end of the week and knowing each of them wished the single week of camp was actually a month (if not longer).

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

September 2, 2010

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September 2, 2010

I was lucky enough to volunteer with UCLA UniCamp throughout college and beyond, and can't think of a more defining experience. Aside from meeting lifelong friends, I was exposed to a world I never would have known without the guidance of UniCamp. I learned first-hand the value of service and it is a lifelong lesson I hold to this day. Throughout my 10+ years working with UniCamp I have come across countless stories from former volunteers and campers alike whose lives were forever changed by the seemingly simple experience of summer camp. I can't speak enough about the impact of this beautiful tradition.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Because of my time with UniCamp, I ended up pursuing a career in nonprofit work - and I'm sure my life path would have been drastically different if not for my time with UniCamp.

More feedback...

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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