Whenever someone asks a Woodsey about camp, and what it means to us, we usually have an energetic response ready for them. “Best experience ever, life-changing, amazing” are some of the words that first come to mind. But, what really sets UniCamp apart from the many, many other experiences that college has to offer? What creates the Woodsey Magic? What IS Woodsey Magic? For this article, one of our Woodsey Alumni, Touchdown, lists some of many Woodsey traditions that makes UniCamp… UniCamp. -Evi
The laundry list of things that help make UniCamp what it is includes, but is not limited to:
The Woodsey Challenge – We shower before we leave for camp. We shower when we get back from camp. But while we’re up at camp, we don’t shower… Period.
Camp Names – Step one of the UniCamp integration process is coming up with a camp name. Since our initial UniCamp interview and training meetings, all of the volunteers have been called on and/referenced in accordance with their chosen camp name. Aside from Knockout, who I’ve known since 7th grade, I don’t look at any of my fellow volunteers and think to call them anything but their camp name. To me, their actual names are their camp names. To call them by anything else just seems weird. One of the first things we do once we get to camp is help the kids come up with camp names, which they are called by throughout the week. The purpose of these names is to give the campers the chance to escape their lives back at home and be whoever they want to be up at camp.
Camp Songs – We sing… a lot. We sing during dishes. We sing during line-ups. We sing at campfire. We sing enough that it justifies every volunteer in our Session being provided with a song book. Songs are generally cued by a person or group proclaiming, “IT’S TIME FOR A SONG!” To which everyone else responds, “A SONG?!” Then, just so everyone is clear, the aforementioned proclaimer(s) will announce, “IT’S A REPEAT AFTER (INSERT CAMP NAME HERE SONG!” And thus the call-and-response style song begins. Oh, and one other quirk about camp songs is that after they’re over we generally sing them “all together”, and then once more at “super-lightning speed”… Superlightning speed is where you literally sing only the first and last word of the song.
Line-Ups – We line up every day before breakfast, lunch, and dinner. As a means of roll call, we perform a different unit chant at every line-up. We sing songs. We ask campers from each unit to tell jokes, dance, impersonate volunteers and/or fictional characters, etc… We ask campers to act out which line is the shortest, longest, hungriest, sleepiest, etc… And we also read notes from the shout out box.
The Shout Out Box – The shout out box is meant for notes to and from any person/group within camp. So long as the notes are Woodsey appropriate, they are read aloud during line-up. The best part about the shout out box is that you can sign the note using any camp name you’d like. It doesn’t necessarily have to be your own. Here’s one example of a shout out box prank from Session 4: “Pterodactyl, you are soooo cute! How did you get to be so good looking?! -Pterodactyl”
Woodsey Pageant – There is one night up at camp where the campers get to dress up the counselors in whatever attire they choose. Often times this results in girls dressed as boys and boys dressed as girls. I also witnessed drawn-on unibrows and facial hair, makeup applied in the sloppiest ways possible, bras and undergarments worn on the outside of one’s clothes, etc… You and your co-counselor then model your outfits in front of the entire camp at dinner line-up… and wear them through the rest of dinner.
Camp Jams – Camp Jams are challenges that each unit gets a certain amount of points for completing. Each session does Camp Jams differently. In our session, there were about 75 different Camp Jams with point values ranging from 2 to 50. In addittion each volunteer is involved in at least one of the Camp Jam challenges, meaning that throughout the week each unit will likely approach that individual to complete his/her respective challenge. My Camp Jam, for example, was “Make up a handshake with Touchdown!” Another one of my personal favorites was “Have your unit make a whale sound for Shamu!”
Saying Grace – After a unit picks up their trays of food in the lodge and finds their assigned table, their next order of business is saying grace. At UniCamp, saying grace consists of everyone in the unit reciting a statement/phrase/chant of some sort, followed promptly by everyone banging both fists on the table and shouting “GRACE!”
Woodsey Bling – This is the name for jewelry that is crafted up at camp. The most typical forms of Woodsey Bling are bracelets/necklaces made using yarn, leather lace, and marbles. What’s the one and only rule that governs Woodsey Bling…? You can’t keep anything you make!
Woodsey Marriages – At the Woodsey Carnival campers and volunteers have the option to get Woodsey married to anyone they are bold enough to ask. Woodsey marriages are consummated using rings crafted from colored pipecleaners and beads
The Staff/Volunteers – From board members to program Directors to LSHIP to kitchen staff to specialists to counselors… The essence of UniCamp is founded upon the people who put the most time and energy into it. Period.
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I can do interfere with what I can do.”
– Everett Hale
A few nights ago, Westwood dimmed at 3 am as a tribe of Woodseys tromped back en masse to
wherever we lived from the midnight premiere of The Avengers, the new Marvel Comics movie. And I
thought what better way to write a Biff-E Breeze article than in the mindset of superheroes and, even
moreso, superhero teams.
You can divvy up superheroes into their domains – Iron Man has technology, Thor has lightning, Hulk
has big forearms – but ultimately, none of those were particularly the award-winner of Avenger crew
(although I feel like weather control makes a pretty strong claim for it). The serendipitous timing really
was that the movie fell immediately after the marvelous co-reveals for the volunteers.
Ultimately, camp is about creating long-lasting and high-impacting relationships, starting with the
relationship between L-Ship and volunteers, then moving from volunteers to the campers, and finally
moving about between the campers themselves.
So what is it that brings us back? The Avengers fight “the foes no single superhero can withstand”.
I guess that’s kind of the main point, isn’t it? There are issues that we can’t singlehandedly face,
regardless of how super we are. Just because there aren’t any supervillains doesn’t mean our world
is picture perfect. The California Department of Education cited a 20.6% dropout rate last year for Los
Angeles County. Only 67% of Hispanic students are getting to graduation, only 59% of the African-
American on top of that. So we can’t pin a name to our issue and we can’t have a brawl with it in the
streets. We have to direct the powers we do have – our dedication, our patience, our devotion – and
inspire, encourage, devote our energies to making the world a better place one life at a time.
We don’t have the resources Tony Stark had, the eagle-sight and aim of Hawkeye, the beefy man-
strength of Captain America (well, I don’t, at the very least), or any of the other heroes skills. But we
have our own set of special abilities. And instead of grouping up to become the Avengers, we group up and form UCLA Unicamp. And Woodseys, if I may say so myself, are a force even fiercer about making the world right than the Avengers ever could be.