The summer of 2010 was one that changed the course of my life forever. It was the first summer that I went up to camp, but not in the way that you might think. I was actually just a 16-year-old camper who never thought that, in just five years, she would be running her own week of camp as LSHIP. The girl you see in that picture was initially stubborn, quiet and didn’t really understand the meaning of camp at all. It wasn’t until that first night that I slowly began to understand how magical UniCamp really is. At campfire, my counselor asked my unit to write down all their worries and problems they had back home on a piece of paper. She made us throw them in the fire. It lifted a huge weight off my shoulders and it brought me closer to understanding the message UniCamp wants to send to the kids. There began my love story with this organization. It instantly changed my mentality and I was in a place where I felt safe to express myself. Coming down from the mountain, I felt something change within me and it was something that my family noticed too. I had some sort of glow, and that’s when I realized, it was magic: Woodsey Magic.
Being a part of Session 1: Mental Health (2016), I am more than excited to be working with Project GRAD Los Angeles. The summer of 2011, my second year of camp, I had participated in Project Grad Los Angeles’ summer institution. I know the impact that both of these organizations have on students, and working together I know that we will create a continuum of care. We are shaping our camper’s of today to be the leaders of tomorrow. Being a product of both UniCamp and Project GRAD Los Angeles, I am glad I get the opportunity to work with students who were in the same shoes as I was five years ago.
Kids need the chance to grow, to learn and to express who they really are, and UniCamp is the place for that. Singing songs, playing games and changing lives is definitely more than just a catchy motto, and my story is a testament to that.
Suki is a third-year Linguistics and Psychology student and Head Counselor for Session 1: Mental Health (2016).
Compiled by Viridiana “Chancla” Flores – UCLA ’16