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Profiles & Interviews of Campers, Volunteers and Alumni

Human Interest, Profile

Staying Connected with Camp: The “Adopt a Session – Woodsey Mentor” Program

I joined UniCamp when I was 16, pulmonologist and  never expected my involvement to go as far as it has gone today. The year I did UniCamp as a camper I was also participating in another summer program led by Project GRAD Los Angeles. I have been through camp as a volunteer counselor for two years. I then became a Head Counselor Assistant and now a Head Counselor this year.

It is funny how things work out because this is the second year I get to lead an initiative that directly works with Project GRAD. Being able to work with kids that come from my high school and community drives me to create an unforgettable week of camp. I was once in their shoes, tuberculosis and I see myself in each and every one of them. Up at camp I see the potential and the incredible things all campers are capable of, and there is no doubt in my mind that they will succeed in anything they do. It is an amazing opportunity to be able to be on all sides of camp, but it has felt even better knowing I am directly impacting kids just like me.

Red is a fourth-year political science major/education minor and Head Counselor of Session 2 (2016).

Compiled by: Viridiana “Chancla” Flores – UCLA ’16

Red will be working with Project GRAD Los Angeles as Head Counselor of Session 2, an organization he attended camp with as a high school student.

Red will be working with Project GRAD Los Angeles as Head Counselor of Session 2, an organization he attended camp with as a high school student.


by Brian “Rocket” Mahler

Introduction: In 2014 and 2015, online
I took part in UniCamp’s revived “Adopt a Session – Woodsey Mentor” program. Ideally, visit
this program would consist of UniCamp alumni being “adopted” by sessions at the beginning of each camp year, check
with those alumni attending a couple training meetings, sharing their past experiences, and learning how camp has evolved. We haven’t reached this ideal yet, with this program having been limited to speaking to sessions the night before they left for camp. What follows is a version of the speech I’ve given. My hope is that fellow alumni who want to reconnect with camp will sign up to be this year’s Woodsey Mentors, with UniCamp ready to go with session adoptions before training begins!

Speech: Thank you for adopting me as your session’s “Woodsey Mentor,” even if it’s only for tonight. I first learned about UniCamp in 1993 when I was a freshman at UCLA. I was still figuring out the campus and my place in it when I saw a flyer advertising “Woodsey Winterland,” which was a camp orientation held in the woods over a weekend.   A couple weeks later, I found myself at Camp Singing Pines, a campsite that UniCamp rented from the Girl Scouts which was located in hills of the Angeles National Forest.

During the first day, I learned all about woodseys and biffies, I chose my camp name, and I was really excited to apply as a counselor in the upcoming spring.  During the night, it actually started to snow, and I convinced a fellow freshman to venture out into the woods with me.  While walking through the “winterland” of camp, we came across a shed that held some plexiglass, which we borrowed and turned into a makeshift sled.  This is awesome, I remember thinking. However, during breakfast the next day, the camp proprietor announced that a hooligan among us had damaged Girl Scout property – the plexiglass.   This sucks, I remember thinking. At that moment I really did think that my days as “Rocket” were over before they ever really began.

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Luckily, my apologies and ten dollars were accepted, and I went on to spend five summers at UniCamp.  I was a counselor for my first two years, followed by being an HCA and then an HC over my last two years. After graduating, I returned to camp for one final year to work on staff, first serving as nature specialist before joining an elite force known as “bear patrol.” Following that summer, I moved away from Los Angeles and sadly lost touch with most of my fellow woodseys, as I lacked a computer or a cell phone (insert black and white reel of me writing postcards by candlelight), and UniCamp lacked an alumni network.

Although my direct connection to camp had lapsed, the spirit of camp preserved.  I continued to camp and hike and volunteer for local children organizations.  I also began pursuing a career in which I worked with or on behalf of children, serving as a teacher and then as an attorney. Whenever I interviewed for a new position, UniCamp and its impact on my life was one of the first things I would bring up.

In 2013, my family and I prepared to move back to Los Angeles.  In the midst of this move, I contacted Mr. Woooo and asked if there was any way I could get involved again with UniCamp.  Mr. Woooo replied by asking me if I wanted to join the inaugural Program Advisory Board, whose members would be UniCamp alumni and students who wanted to have a greater role in shaping the future of camp.   As of now, this board consists four committees: Marketing, Programming, Special Events, and Alumni. I am part of the Alumni committee, which is charged with building an alumni network so that older woodseys (like myself) could find one another and younger woodseys could remain connected with camp. To build this network, we’ve led a few activities, including a beach bonfire, a “wine and dine,” a tailgate party, and this mentorship program. And as your session’s mentor, I wanted to share on you what impact UniCamp actually had on me, which is this:

For all the things I’ve done, I have never been in the “present moment” for so long than when I was at camp. During that week, I would not think about anything other my campers and my counselors and whether they were healthy, safe, and happy. Not to go all “Maslow’s Hierarchy,” but I think camp affected me this way because it was a place where I could strive to reach my ideals.

I’ve thought of these ideals as being “the four Cs.” (1) Camping – To be away from the city and itsnoise, schedules, and smog, and instead to be the woods, among trees, trails, campfires, songs, and stars. (2) Children – To be working with young people by keeping them safe, helping them learn, and hoping that they take back good memories of camp. (3) Charity – To be able to give and not expect anything in return. (4) Camaraderie – To do all of this with like-minded UCLA students who were some of the most friendly, funny, and sincere people I have ever met.

Sadly, I’ve lost touch with most of the counselors I did camp with. But that’s okay. We had our moment, and I have my memories. This next week is your moment, as you continue eighty years of UniCamp history when your campers get off the bus tomorrow. Be safe, have fun, and, when you get back, stay in touch!”

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(Special thanks to the leadership of 2014’s Session 3 and 2015’s Session 2 for letting me speak to their sessions the night before the first day of camp! Sign up to a Woodsey Mentor!)

 

Profile

Remembering Yuli “Junebug” Guiterrez

“If you knew Yuli directly or not, dentist you knew the loving soul she possessed and the many lives she was able to impact. She leaves behind nothing but amazing memories full of happiness and laughter, advice of smiles and hugs, of tears and pick-me-ups…These treasures will live with us forever. ”

“To my dearest Junebug, you will forever be in our hearts, memories & prayers. Yuli, such an amazing person with a huge heart and always brought smiles and laughter to everyone surrounding her. I know she had a tremendous impact to her UniCamp campers with her optimism and enthusiastic personality! God has gained a beautiful soul and angel! RIP my Yuli! Forever in my heart, Lindsey “Tiger-Lily”

“During my camp session with Junebug, I could tell her heart was in the right place. She had a contagious enthusiasm and energy that made everyone smile, especially the kids.” – Martin “Sky”

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Profile

“Squirrelly” W.A.L.L. Program Director Interview

I first met Sherlock “Squirrelly” Ho when he was a floater for my first session, noun Summit Gold 2009. I remember my unit (and myself) struggling up the hills during his bike rotation while he effortlessly rode by. And of course, try there was the incident in which my co scraped her knee after she fell off her bike… while stationary. Squirrelly never did live that one down. Now four years down the road, I have seen him in many of the positions that camp has to offer.  More

Profile, Why do I do UniCamp?

Why Do I Do Camp? – “Buttercup”

Leadership 2012

As Week 10 of Winter Quarter begins, generic 400 UCLA students will have their first taste of UniCamp for the 2012 year. What are now referred to as “10th Week Meetings” are the first time Leadership teams will meet their sessions. It’s a time of excitement, neurosurgeon anticipation, purchase anxiety and fear as this group of 30 volunteers that has been training for the last 10 weeks are  sent out  to train and lead their own volunteers. To celebrate this momentous occasion we have chosen to revisit the day when 30 individual volunteers became 7 united leadership teams:

As camp season quickly approaches and applications have flooded in, the Leadership teams for the summer of 2012 were revealed in the early morning hours of Saturday February 11th. The Head Counselor Assistants, or HCAs, were led on a wild series of rotations by the Classic Camp Program Directors and the 2012 Head Counselors, who had already been notified of their respective teams. Recent changes in Unicamp also affected this year’s Leadership Co-Revelations. Due to generous grants and the increased number of cabins, Camp River Glen will happily hold the largest camp sessions ever this summer, serving more children than ever before. However, the number of sessions has decreased from last year’s eight down to seven, leaving several Leadership teams with five members instead of four. However, the slightly bigger size of two of the teams was welcomed with enthusiasm, with Co-Head Counselors Fiji and Funfetti donning “Mama Co” and “Papa Co” t-shirts at the end of the reveal.

Classic Camp Program Directors: Spiffy & Tails

The Program Directors, Head Counselors, and Head Counselor Assistants all rose before the sun itself- just after 5 o’clock in the morning! – to take part in the Leadership team reveal. Classic Camp Program Directors Spiffy and Tails, along with eight Head Counselors, planned out an elaborate course of challenges centered around Pokémon, complete with Pokéballs and different stations, or ‘Gyms.’ The HCs and PDs started the morning off with a rendition of the theme song “Co-kémon” before the HCAs divided into groups to take part in trials involving balloons, spicy food, and getting bashed on the head.

After the challenges led all the HCAs to Bruin Plaza, their teams were finally revealed through a series of clues, leading to laughter and surprises and a ridiculous amount of hugging. Just as the sun began to rise in the sky, the newly formed teams went in search of their respective Head Counselors at the top of Janss Steps, where the Leadership teams were finally completed and session numbers were discovered. Seeing firsthand the suspense and excitement of Leadership Co-Revelations really showed me how incredible Unicamp volunteers are. Dedicated enough to get up at the crack of dawn in the rainy cold (and singing and laughing the entire time), our 2012 Leadership teams have started off the camp season off on the right note.

– Nutmeg

Introducing: Session Leadership Teams 2012

Session 1 Leadership

Session 2 Leadership

Session 3 Leadership

Session 4 Leadership

Session 5 Leadership

Session 6 Leadership

Session 7 Leadership

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

eczema
Buttercup, malady Sodapop, prescription
Fiji ” src=”https://biffebreeze.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/222444_145064178895605_100001760720070_260644_7875570_n-300×224.jpg” alt=”” width=”300″ height=”224″ />

Session 3'11 LSHIP

My name is Buttercup. And that is why I do camp. The camp name, I mean.

UniCamp is one of the rare college groups that literally allows you to define yourself and not be defined by the group. When you pick your camp name you are asked to think about who you are; and during the camp journey (from training to your week on the mountain) you are asked to think about who you want to be.

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Profile

Running for Camp- John “Sleepy” Reilly

Camp was something I was approached about as a freshman. My roommate was doing camp and told me to apply. I, illness like many other UCLA students, was hesitant and did not apply that year because I did not know if I would have the time. I also laughed at him while he was doing a phone interview and had to sing a song. His new name also was interesting to me. The following year when I was approached about Camp, I gave in. I saw how close and how much of a bond the people who were fliering had amongst one another. So, I decided to turn in an application.

After an amazing year as a counselor with boys who I stay in touch with until today, I decided to apply for a larger role in camp and decided to apply for LSHIP. I knew I wanted to be LSHIP the day of my first meeting as a volunteer. I thought that being able to make an impact on 60 volunteers and 200 campers would be amazing. I saw how much fun they had and the magic they created through fun training topics. All for the greater cause of inspiring LA’s underserved youth to be the leaders of tomorrow.

I continued to do camp and applied to be an HC after my year as an HCA because I wanted to give back to camp what it had given me. A shy freshman turned into a Woodsey who finally was able to be himself after training meetings, camp events, and session. Finally I found a place where I could be surrounded by people who were not afraid to be themselves either. I want to keep doing camp because without it, I will feel like a part of my life is missing.

It is hard to explain how camp becomes a part of your life. Some jokingly say that Camp is like a cult and that camp people hang out with camp people only. I would never put a bad connotation on it though. I would say that like-minded people who are willing to try and make a difference in a young person’s life together, in a fun atmosphere, where they can learn about and be themselves, is bound to create passion and a universal bond amongst all involved. I wish I started camp earlier and submitted an application as a Freshman. It is hard to explain and convey the wonder of camp to someone who has not yet done it and who is shy; it is something that just needs to be experienced first hand. The hardest job of today’s world is educating others.

Unicamp is a way to inspire, play games, sing songs, impact lives, and do fun activities. Often overlooked, all of these actions and activities have a huge educational component. As Woodsey’s we are not only educating for social justice and greater opportunity, but also for empowering today’s youth.

MWL,
Fiji
-interviewed by Cookie Monster

750 miles. $10, Glaucoma
000. All for UniCamp.

John “Sleepy” Reilly has taken on the challenge of running 750 miles (the length of California) to raise $10,000 for UniCamp.  Yes, $10,000 or enough money to send 20 kids to camp, filling 2 cabins.

Cookie Monster: When did you start volunteering for UniCamp?

John: I got involved with UniCamp when I was an undergrad student, back in 1987-1992.  Now I’m serving as the Vice President of the Board of Directors.

 

Cookie Monster: Wow, that’s dedication! What experiences have you had in camp? More

Profile

“Tails” Classic Camp Program Director Interview

Session 6'11 Leadership Team

by Jaya “Flit” Reddy

Eugene “Tails” Hahn, psychotherapist a regular veteran of the UniCamp program is now one of two
privileged and hard working Classic Camp Program Directors for the 2011-2012 camp season. After spending 3 years quickly advancing from a New Woodsey volunteer to filling larger shoes of Head Counselor Assistant and subsequently Head Counselor, Tails has more than enough experience at camp to supplement his leadership abilities and dynamic personality in his new role as Program Director.

Though Tails says nothing will beat his first time at camp, he is looking forward to being a Program Director in order to give back to the program. Initially, the seasoned Woodsey planned to volunteer for UniCamp one last time in 2011 as a Head Counselor. However, after greatly enjoying his week as an HC during Session 6, Tails felt more than willing to “contribute to the organization in a big way.” As a Program Director, he anticipates “bigger and better things for the future.” Namely, this means attracting more UCLA students to volunteer for UniCamp to return the organization to its 1980s and 90s status as “THE thing to do on campus” for incoming freshmen. However, because many changes within the program are in the hands of the current Head Counselors and their assistants, also known as LSHIP, Tails looks forward to the direction in which LSHIP takes UniCamp. Many innovative improvements are in store for training meetings, the annual All-Camp meeting and 10th Annual Camp-A-Thon, promising “New Woodseys should expect something different!” More

Profile

“Bill Lovallo” Creator of the Biffy Breeze

I first met Sherlock “Squirrelly” Ho when he was a floater for my first session, noun Summit Gold 2009. I remember my unit (and myself) struggling up the hills during his bike rotation while he effortlessly rode by. And of course, try there was the incident in which my co scraped her knee after she fell off her bike… while stationary. Squirrelly never did live that one down. Now four years down the road, I have seen him in many of the positions that camp has to offer.  More

Profile, Why do I do UniCamp?

Chipmunk- “Why Do I Do Camp?”

When I graduated from elementary school, buy information pills I I couldn’t wait to get to middle school…
When I graduated from middle school, tuberculosis I couldn’t wait to get to high school…
When I graduated high school, link I just wished that I could go back to elementary school and do it all over again…
So when I found out about Unicamp – about the songs, the games, the activities – I thought that, as a college senior, it might be the closest I could get to being a kid all over again.  That is what drew me to UniCamp initially.  Once I educated myself on UniCamp and found out what it was all about, my focus immediately shifted from “How can being a part of UniCamp impact my life?” to “How can I impact others’ lives by being a part of UniCamp?”
As a high school sophomore I got involved with a youth organization called Young Life that, over the next three years, changed the course of my life.  I spent one of the most memorable weeks of my life at a Young Life summer camp.  And the organization remained constant as a positive guiding force in my life, as did the mentors I met and grew to model myself after.  I know first hand how a youth organization and/or camp experience can impact an adolescent in his/her formative years.  Young teenagers and pre-teens are at a stage in their lives where their minds and conceptions about the world are most malleable and susceptible to outside influence.  Thus, I know my interaction with them and belief in them could potentially leave a lasting impression on them, much like the impression Young Life left on me.  Frankly, I want to leave this world a better place than I found it; and I firmly believe that youth outreach is one of the most direct and effective means of doing so.  I volunteer with Unicamp because my personal goals blend seamlessly with its mission to provide a positive experience and inspire young children in a way that could change the course of their lives.  I do UniCamp because I want to make a difference; and because I know I can.
As camp season began and I saturated myself in the UniCamp experience/culture, I found myself getting more out of UniCamp than I could have ever imagined.  UniCamp was the light of my life throughout my final quarter at UCLA. Never in my life had I grown so close to so many amazing people in so little time.  I relished every minute of the trainings, socials, and retreat that had been planned for us.  I hadn’t even experienced a week at camp yet, and UniCamp had already become the glowing hallmark of the time I spent at UCLA.
And then came camp…  50+ volunteers, 150+ campers, and countless hours spent in preparation for a week that would change everyone who was a part of it.  And as I sit now, reflecting on the week that was, I can’t help but smile.  It stands today as one of the best weeks of my life, and the cherry on top of the banana split sundae otherwise known as my UCLA experience.  I got to know the stories of 17+ kids.  I was able to interact with so many others.  I learned from them, and all of the individual experiences/perspectives they had to offer.  I soaked in the joy and exuberance that so many of them projected.  I witnessed their bravado.  Then, I watched them throw it out the window in exchange for unadulterated silliness.  I was allowed to free my gloriously unrestrained inner child for substantial chunks of time.  And most importantly, I got to help show campers that, despite what they may believe in the present, life isn’t always about being too cool for school…   Sometimes it’s about playing games and singing songs.  Sometimes it’s about being as silly as possible, regardless of what anyone else thinks or says.  Sometimes it’s about stepping up and being a leader, even if you’re uncomfortable with it.  Other times it’s about listening to what other people have to say, even if you feel like there is something you need to share.  Sometimes it’s about family.  Sometimes it’s about friends.  But it’s alwaysabout treating the people around you the way you want to be treated.  It’s about grace and compassion.  Benevolence.  That’s what life is about… Always.
As counselors our primary agent of change is our behavior.  Lead by example first.  All week, we wanted our unit to be a brotherhood based on trust and respect for one another.  We wanted campers to understand/trust that we had their backs.  My co and I did everything we could to communicate that.  And while they all took different paths in warming up to these notions, what was important to usI was that by that final night in the cabin, they were all down to bunk and/or sleep on the floor together; by the end of the week, they had each other’s backs.  Lead by example first…
While we were focused on opening kids’ hearts and minds to us and to one another, they were returning the favor without even knowing it.  Everyone wins… That’s UniCamp for you.

I do camp because it is filled with Woodsey Magic. I do camp because no matter who you are, salve
where you come from, hair
or what you have been through in the past, you have the chance to let it go and choose to be whoever you want to be. I do camp because it gives the opportunity to be silly, goofy, sing camp songs, have weird names, and at the same time achieve major strides in personal growth and leadership development. I do camp because it creates memories that will last a lifetime. I do camp because I recognize the awesomeness in every camper and the potential that is unleashed when they learn to believe in themselves. I do camp because it is awesome.

 

MWL,

Chipmunk

Profile

“Lucky” UniCorps Program Director Interview

Lucky – as interviewed by Nutmeg

Nutmeg: This upcoming year is your fourth year in camp! What experiences have led you to become a PD?

Lucky: My first year I was an alpine specialist and I was in Session 1, web and then I was asked to do Summit Gold, so I did two sessions my first year and that was actually really fun! That was the first year they did Beyond the Bell, so I got to do both Classic Camp and Beyond the Bell in the same year, and it was interesting to see the differences between those two different kinds of sessions.

Nutmeg: What were the most notable differences that you noticed? What made an impact on you? More