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Humans of UniCamp: Red

I joined UniCamp when I was 16, 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, 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.


I am UniCamp- Sheila Kuehl

What does UCLA UniCamp mean to you? A couple of days ago, the marketing team sat down to decide on possible slogans for our PR campaign this year. One of our board members presented the idea of “I am UniCamp”, connecting the experiences and mission of our student volunteers. Funny enough, “I am UniCamp” already exists. Written by one of our esteemed Woodseys, Sheila Kuehl, the “I am UniCamp” poems were created for our 50th anniversary in 1985. In an arrangement of 21 short poems, Sheila chronicles the history of camp and its meaning to the campers, the volunteers, and to everyone else involved in our tradition. We think it’s high time that we introduce them once again, and see how the poems still resonate so strongly after 28 years . We will be posting several of them at a time throughout the month, so keep an eye out!

I am UniCamp.  I am tall pines with tops lost in more stars than the city sees in a hundred years.  I am a river that everyone will call The Stream tickling my way over rocks that seems to shift as you look at them.  I am golden leaves in the fall and cobalt blue skies in summer.  I am the bats squeaking at dusk, squirrels mistrustful of everything, blue jays always out of humor.  I am more silence than your most peaceful dreams.  I am waiting for you to find me. More


Why Do I Do UniCamp?- Touchdown

When I graduated from elementary school, I I couldn’t wait to get to middle school…
When I graduated from middle school, I couldn’t wait to get to high school…
When I graduated high school, 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.