I was looking over a nonprofit I serve with now as a medical doctor in Africa and thought I would look up what was said about UniCamp. I was a member of the UniCamp community back in 1975-1978. I had worked as a counselor for 2 summers and head counselor for 2 more summers. I was a board member for a few years as well. After all these many years I look back at the time spent with UniCamp and think of how rich this time was. It was a time when I learned to know my world extended far beyond my self, to share with others a genuine life full of hope, frustrations, sadness, happiness, surprise, and love.
Even to this day memories of faces and times spent together return to me with joy. I still have close friends from my UniCamp days and sing songs we sang together.
I most heartily encourage you look into this organization and drink deep as a fine wine that only improves with age.
UniCamp has been the defining experience of my entire 4 years at UCLA. This organization is truly dedicated to servicing the underserved youth of LA. Not only does this organization try to help these kids realize their potential, the camp is run in such a fashion that judgment is not passed upon the campers, despite the stereotypes that many of these campers are "troubled." Furthermore, the programs are all outcome based and are meant to teach a lesson. Not only is it a great week to experience nature, but also for the campers to learn about themselves.
UCLA's Unicamp provides underserved children from the inner city an opportunity to see a life outside of their environment. They are part of bonding activities with their peers, are given positive role models and are able to participate in outdoor activities not available to them in their own neighborhoods. The interaction between UCLA students and these children provides a safe zone for them to be vulnerable and talk about their experiences. Unicamp is also an amazing opportunity for UCLA students to volunteer and grow as individuals.
UCLA UniCamp is one of the few unique opportunities that bring UCLA students and alumni of diverse backgrounds and experiences together for one common cause. How else would I have been able to meet and know people outside of my major, my niche, and common interests? When people say the camp is for the kids, they do forget that it is also for the student volunteers. During the weeks of training, programming, and preparation, the volunteers learn qualities about themselves that they might not have been aware of and strength what they do know so that they are prepared to lead the campers up in the mountains. Once you are up at camp and spend a week away from the reality in the city with kids who can learn more about themselves and their abilities in this new environment, by the end of the week, you can see the Woodsey magic happen. The kids, without any previous image attached to them, can surprise you with their insight and challenge you with their behavior. I have to thank UniCamp for all the experiences of being my first summer camp, of being the one avenue allowing me to grow and help others grow. I've met people outside of my 4 years of college who I had an instant connection because of our common link of being past Woodseys. UniCamp really has been a big part of me. This is why each year, even though I am out of college and in the working world, I continue to share my UniCamp stories with anyone I can.
UCLA Unicamp has definitely changed my life. There are very few experiences I have had so far that have had this effect on me. This organization, which is UCLA's official charity, doesn't only give many kids the opportunity to attend summer camp, but it helps them grow as individuals and learn more about themselves and the world they live in. Also, the volunteers are the most amazing, diverse group of people I have ever met. They have such warm, open hearts and personalities and accept you for who you are. I feel most like myself whenever I am up at camp with these kids and my fellow volunteers. There honestly is no other organization out there like this; Unicamp unites people from all backgrounds and experiences in an effort to inspire them to impact their surrounding community. The kids we work with have so much potential and it is amazing to see how much they grow throughout the course of the week. They learn to respect each other and most importantly, they learn to respect themselves. I've been volunteering with this camp for the past three years and I feel like I learn more and more about myself every time I go. Thanks to camp, I have realized that what I am truly passionate about is working with children, so I plan on joining the Peace Corp. to teach health education after I graduate. UCLA Unicamp has helped me find a family on campus, discover my passion, and learn that one person can make a difference. Unicamp gives me hope that one day, the world will become a better place because we strive to help the kids who attend find the potential they have within themselves to achieve their dreams. My college experience definitely would not have been the same without Unicamp. I will definitely keep working with and support this organization even after I graduate because I love everything about it.
UCLA UniCamp is simply an amazing organization that changes lives. Nothing in my life has helped me grow more than UniCamp. After training for 100 hours, I had the opportunity to volunteer for a week in the San Bernardino Mountains working with youth from the greater Los Angeles area. Interacting with these campers, many of whom opened up about their life experiences, served to broaden my understanding of the world and has inspired me to continue to work with youth in the future. Though UCLA UniCamp has everything a traditional summer camp has--archery, swimming, arts&crafts;--it also has something much greater: the Woodsey Magic. It's hard to explain unless you've spent a week with those campers, but it's life-changing. Each time I go to camp I discover more about myself and others and leave, hopefully, as a slightly better person.
Ever since I started out as a volunteer in UniCamp 5 years ago, every minute has had an impact on my experience. Whether it be learning about behavior management, helping recruit campers, programming for my unit, or cleaning the BIFFY, or what others may call the toilet, UniCamp has really taught me a lot. The volunteers put in well over the 100 hours of training they are required and put in so much effort in ensuring that the campers have a great week at camp. And the campers, they're just amazing! Although people assume that the student volunteers are there to teach the campers; but really, the campers teach us just as much! I wouldn't exchange my experience with UniCamp for everything. It has made me and so many other people, a better person :) Much Woodsey Luv.
Speaking as a past camper and a present volunteer, I absolutely love Unicamp. Unicamp allows under privileged kids to enjoy a week up at camp without the distractions of the city. The volunteers and staff really try to bond with the kids and I am sure that the kids are truly inspired. I know that as camper I was inspired by my counselors and part of that made me want to become a counselor. The kids are able to engage in activities and conversations that would probably not happen in their everyday lives. On top of all, the camp allows the kids to just be kids. Some of the children have very hard city lives and camp gives them a chance to act their age without so much stress. I truly enjoy Unicamp and will continue to support it in anyway I can.
Without a doubt, UniCamp was the formative experience of college, and quite possibly my life. Whether camper or counselor, there is something about this organization and this experience that just brings people together. UCLA UniCamp is a place where people can feel free to be who they truly are and want to be. It is a place where people can learn from themselves and from each other, and it is a place for people to grow in an entirely safe and welcoming environment. UniCamp is a bridge between people and between worlds. It is a place where college students, many of whom have never ventured into the more impoverished areas of Los Angeles, or have never had a conversation with anyone from the "underserved community," can meet and come to see everyone for who they really are, and not as society's archetypes and stereotypes deem them to be. UniCamp breaks down these barriers between people. Most importantly, UniCamp is a place for kids to be kids, and for young adults and adults to rediscover their inner child. It is refreshing, inspiring, renewing, and fun. If nothing else, then it is this last word that makes UniCamp the great organization that it is.
To put it simply, UCLA Unicamp was the best thing that ever happened to me and I was only a volunteer. I never knew you can get so much personal growth and fulfillment from giving back to the community and inspiring kids to reach past their full potential. I distinctly remember one night with a rowdy group of boys, we did an activity that was intended to foster teamwork, communication, and how intentions may be misunderstood. The center of trouble for that group took to the activity immediately and stepped into a positive leadership role. It simply blew me away. Talking to him at the end of the week to see how and if he enjoyed himself, he said, "It was one of the best weeks of my life." To hear this coming from a kid who was kicked out of a few camps earlier in the same summer, made me fully understand what a positive stance this organization has taken and just how important it is to encourage people to follow it's example.
Quite simply, UniCamp changed the course of my life. In large part due to of this program, I became invested in education and now teach junior high in a Title 1 school. You take the average high-achieving UCLA student who raced through high school with honors in order to gain acceptance to college, then pair that individual up with a student from Los Angeles whose family qualifies for free lunch. The result is a clash of 2 socioeconomic worlds that results in an intimate exchange up in the San Bernadino forest. Beliefs are challenged, stereotypes become shattered, and both sides realize how simple life's smallest denominator really is: each other. UniCamp has a long and storied history in Los Angeles, it is run by good people with vision and heart, and it attracts humble, earnest individuals looking to make a difference. I would whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone in any capacity.
UniCamp is, to put it simply, a week of pushing personal boundaries and limits, and opening up to the possibilities of life and friendships. I learned so much from the high school age campers I worked with; they are incredibly talented, passionate, strong, and open-minded. The main outcome our Session focused on was to "pave the path to your passion." We wanted to emphasize to these campers that anything they want to achieve is possible, but that it does take hard work various steps to get there. To my surprise, these kids were SO passionate/ambitious to start with! They honestly have more goals and dreams than I do. They were very responsive to the idea that they have to take little steps to achieve their dreams, and they inspired me to dream bigger. These kids understood that UniCamp was an opportunity for them and made it the best week I could have ever imagined. They've made me realize that one of the most important aspects of life is to the give others whatever I can, whether it be guidance, counseling, a listening ear, anything, because I have been much to blessed to do otherwise. I LOVE UNICAMP, PLEASE SUPPORT!
This was my first year volunteering at Unicamp, and it was seriously the best week of life life! The high school students were incredible and I learned just as much from them as I hope they did from me and the rest of the UCLA student volunteers. This was a week filled with so much love, leadership, bonding, and overall growth. I saw such a positive change in each high school student I got to know over the week. Unicamp was seriously a life changing experience for me and something I can say that I hope to be involved with for many years to come.
My two years participating in Unicamp have been absolutely amazing. Last year, when I was a counselor, I really admired how the program was run; everything about camp was being taken care of by my Leadership; whether it was making sure we were trained, making sure we, as volunteers, were getting along with one another, making sure all of our paperwork was turned in. They really did a good job making sure the volunteers were prepared for camp, which ultimately resulted in an amazing week up at camp for me and the rest of the volunteers. This inspired me to become more involved in the organization, and so I applied to be on Leadership for the 09-10 year. I got it, and I fell in love with the organization even more. Being on Leadership was an entirely different, but just as fantastic experience. Leadership is also trained by the program directors; training us to become experienced enough to train our volunteers. The thing I appreciate about UCLA Unicamp is the hierarchy of support there is. The campers are the volunteers' responsibility, the volunteers are leadership's responsibility, and the members of leadership are the program director's responsibility. The hierarchy continues, but what I earnestly appreciate about the program is this hierarchy, this continuum of support in the case that any one person, camper or volunteer, needs anything. All in all, this organization is the most well run organization I have been a part of. I have been in many other volunteer organizations, and there is definitely a reason why UCLA Unicamp has a rich, long-standing history of 75 years.
What an amazing organization. It seriously exceeds all camps I've ever been to. UniCamp is rich with tradition, and your camp experience will be like no other. Every single "staff member" is a volunteer and has undergone hundreds of hours of training for a week at camp. Therefore, everyone is highly qualified to deal with various situations that arise. Not only are the counselors there to babysit the kids like at other camps I've seen, but they are actually there to be a counselor and turn the world around one kid at a time. As a counselor, I've seen so many kids grow this week that I didn't expect to happen. In a nutshell, going to UniCamp will be the best week of your life.
In a word: amazing. The people you meet, the memories you make, the lives you reach out to... and it's not just for the kids. While our demographic of under-served youth in Los Angeles truly benefit from a week up at camp away from city life, the volunteers gain so much from the experience as well. I remember my first year as a volunteer when I drove a group of kids to the lake for a day of sailing. One of them told me he would try really hard to do well in school so that he could go to UCLA and be a camp counselor just like us. For one week, the kids and counselors can be whoever they want to be - that's why we choose camp names. They spend time in the great outdoors with more exposure to nature than Los Angeles could ever offer. And my favorite part of being a specialist - you help these kids set goals and push them to go just a little bit further. The Alpine Tower is a 50-foot-tall challenge course, and as the kids climb, they are belayed, guided, and encouraged by the specialist. I had one boy who only wanted to go to the halfway point, which is fine. Once he was there, I asked him if he wanted to try going up a little more. And then a little more. Before I knew it, he was climbing onto the highest platform overlooking the campsite and the San Bernardino mountains beyond. He was incredulous at having reached the top, and the wide smile on his face just made all of the training and days of not showering completely worth it.
UCLA UniCamp has changed my life. I have been a volunteer for this organization since my first year at UCLA (2007). The bonds that I have made with my campers and my fellow volunteers have been amazing. We provide an experience that many of our campers might not otherwise be able to have, and we truly make a difference in the lives of our campers, and they make a lasting impact on the lives of the volunteers as well.
I was a UNICAMP Volunteer in 1993. I grew up similar to these kids and wanted to give back. I had unique gifts from a family who sort of adopted me. I remember coming back from camp after two weeks and seeing a different person in the mirror. A giving and alive young woman who I always wanted to be. The kids had the opportunity many kids will never have regardless of background. They learned, I learned, we all learned!
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 :)
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.