For the second day of our “Why I do UniCamp” series, and in accordance with Valentine’s Day, we take a look at Squirrelly’s narrative on what it takes to be a (Gentle)man. Even though a camp counselor is often perceived to be a traditional female role, UniCamp encourages our volunteers to challenge that notion, and show campers that we CAN be whoever we want to be, and bid “adieu” to societal norms.
On Being a (Gentle)man:
It is undeniable that within UniCamp and various service organizations focused on working with children, there is not a lot of male representation. Sometimes I wonder about the rationale behind this deficit. My guess is that the concept of working intimately with kids is perceived to be incongruent with a man’s role. Gender roles that dictate that caring for children is a distinctly feminine role may be preventing great MENtors from fulfilling their potential. Even as I write this, I am struggling to describe these ideas without coming off as “soft.”
Being physically strong, unemotional in difficult times and having a successful career are all part of being a man. However, I would also argue that “being a man” could also include being able to truly express human compassion. It is almost impossible to argue with the fact that Woodsey men are not strong, which does not negate the fact that they are also able to demonstrate their sensitivity through working with the underserved youth of LA. Leading by example, male volunteers are a great example to the next generation of young men and boys that it is OKAY for men to be gentle, kind, caring, and simply good to one another.
UniCamp is truly a microcosm in which human empathy – something so often times forgotten in society – is demonstrated. And to a large extent, this is demonstrated by the men. Female volunteers, of course, are empathic too, but this is a haven in which the perception and expectations of males within our American society can be cast aside and also reshaped in the receptive minds of our youth. The CHOICE of being able to express oneself as a kindhearted and caring man is very important.
So, as we begin volunteer recruitment, this is a challenge to Woodsey volunteers to encourage our men at UCLA to apply this year with UniCamp. As a man, this is a call to really examine oneself as and have pride in the idea that you do have a soft side and that regardless of what people say, it IS manly to work with kids. For the females, encourage the men around you to really try something that they would not typically think to do: volunteer at a kids’ summer camp.
Sherlock “Squirrelly” Ho