I first met Sherlock “Squirrelly” Ho when he was a floater for my first session, 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, 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. I have seen him as Leadership, as a WALL adviser, a fellow k-staff, and now, as one of WALL’s program directors. Squirrs is a surly dude, he is not one for words, and makes too many jokes about him being an “old man”. But through it all, you can’t deny that he has a sincere and genuine dedication and passion for camp. – Evi
Motown: Why did you apply to be a WALL Program Director? What are your goals/themes for the program this year?
Squirrelly: I applied to be Program Director because I wanted to end my UniCamp career on a strong note. Being a PD for WALL seemed like the best way to go, since I did two sessions leading WALL last summer. This year, our goals and themes are to continue the cohesiveness of the group that defined being a Waller; it is a really special bond that you cannot get by staying at the campsite for the week. We are also experimenting with having two WALL groups go per session to accommodate more people applying to the program.
Motown: What’s one of your favorite experiences in your program?
Squirrelly: The bonding. There is a bond being in WALL that cannot be achieved in any other aspect of camp; it is the result of being such a small unit and making the hike together. I keep in contact with a lot of my Wallers from last season and it is something very important to me..
Motown: Why do you do camp?
Squirrelly: The people. It is the relationships not only with the campers, but with other volunteers.
Motown: Was there ever a moment on the WALL hike where you or one of your campers wanted to quit the hike? And if so, what made you/them continue on?
Squirrelly: Definitely, I think the best way (to motivate them) to continue was to be positive and encourage them and help them keep the eye on the prize. Often I think these kid’s don’t receive the positive encouragement they need and hopefully I was able to provide at least some on the hike.
Motown: I hear that you are currently pursuing your Masters of Social Welfare (MSW) at USC. Two Questions. First, how does it feel attending class at USC? Does your heard break a little bit each time you drive onto campus?
Squirrelly: It is strange going to a different campus. Every time someone makes a small quip at UCLA, I mutter “Go Bruins”.
Motown: Why did you decide to pursue an MSW?
Squirrelly: I know that in large, part of the reason I decided to pursue a degree in social work is because of my experiences I had with camp, and solidified even more so through my experiences on WALL hikes. The world is a place where many people’s voices and needs are often unheard, and I hope that I can listen to them and help in at least the slightest way.
Motown: Last question. It’s tradition for the WALL PD to give a speech to each WALL group before they leave on their hike. Can you give us a preview of something you plan on saying to the groups?
Squirrelly: One of my favorite quotes is from the short story “Bear Meat” by Primo Levi. I first heard it when watching Into the Wild, and these words have stuck me with me. Even though a lot of times we think that camp is for the campers to get away from it all, and experience something new, it’s also an opportunity for you to learn about yourself. Nature heals all; it doesn’t discriminate. So while the journey is hard, and you may feel vulnerable and weak in nature, know that you’ll come out of it stronger than you came in:
“And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong, to measure yourself at least once, to find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions, facing blind, deaf stone alone, with nothing to help you but your own hands and your own head.”
Squirrelly would also like to remind any and all Alumni that this year’s WALL group will be hosting a celebration for WALL’s 25th anniversary on Saturday June 2nd from 10am – 4pm.