As Volunteer Recruitment reaches its halfway point today (apps due next Friday!), students walking down Bruin Walk, in their dorms, and in their fraternity/sorority houses are bombarded with fliers to “APPLY FOR UNICAMP TODAY!!”. And while the continuous streams of Facebook statuses, #uclaunicamp #woodsey, and the very passionate group of volunteers flyering on B-Walk are slightly overwhelming, it works, because a lot of potential new Woodseys out there are now wondering, “oh, UniCamp, maybe I should apply….”, and ultimately ends at the question, “Why should I do UniCamp”?
That, in itself, is a loaded question. “It’s for the kids”, “Woodsey magic”, “life changing” are some of the few, but honestly, there is a myriad of answers out there for this question, and each reflecting the different background and experiences of the responder. Here at the Breeze, we hope to answer that question with our “Why I Do UniCamp” series. From now until the end of Recruitment, this series draws answers from our very diverse group of volunteers. From South Campus to North Campus, counselors to specialists, current Woodseys to Woodsey Alumni, past campers to staff, we hope this series helps explain why we do what we do, and why YOU should apply to UCLA UniCamp.
Despite all of the responsibilities that came with being an undergraduate at UCLA, UniCamp is the one place where I can feel like a kid again…
I’ll never forget my first UniCamp meeting three years ago. I was a freshman who was undergoing a pretty rough transition into college; I was struggling to find my niche, where I belonged and a group of friends like the ones I had back home. I heard about UniCamp through a volunteer who was recruiting on Bruinwalk and decided to apply to it last minute (literally the hour before the application was due) because I thought, “Hey why not? I’ve gotta join something at some point, and I do love working with kids.” Guess it sounded like a pretty cool deal to me.
At the first UniCamp meeting, I was surrounded by people calling each other by weird names, singing silly songs at the top of their lungs, playing games that involved running around like kids, but most importantly, I fell in love with the craziness and energy that encompassed my LSHIP. I decided at that first meeting that I had found my niche: a place where I already felt completely comfortable to be myself despite barely knowing anyone. I could release the kid that was always inside me, and I’ve never looked
UniCamp is filled with the most genuine group of people that I have ever met in my entire life. As cliché as it sounds, they truly accept you for who you are – for your strengths, weaknesses, perfections, flaws, etc. They love you for you, and they will never turn their back towards you. Not only have I met some of the people that I know will be there for me for a lifetime, I have met people who are so passionate about what they do and who they do it for.
There are so many preconceptions surrounding these campers from the greater Los Angeles – that they come from broken families, have gone through some intense hardships at a young age – but never in my life did I ever think I was going to learn so much from someone that much younger than myself. These campers are so incredibly mature for their age and know so much about themselves (about who they want to be, what they want to do) that it is an inspiration to watch them grow even more throughout the week at camp. Yes, some of these kids have gone through hardships but you would never guess it by seeing them and interacting with them. They do everything with a smile on their face and with the amount of energy that could fill an entire football stadium. Their positive attitude towards life itself and towards others is contagious and every year that I have done camp, I never leave my week unfulfilled.
Some of my campers that I have had the honor of calling my own have moved on to attend college and the day that one of them called me and told me that she had gotten into UCLA and was going to go there and become a UniCamp counselor, I cried tears of happiness. Nothing can compare to that feeling of knowing that this girl had been through so much and had conquered it all and was now going to take her first steps in pursuing her dreams by getting into college.
There’s a reason I come back to UniCamp every year, and there’s a reason why when one camp season ends, I can’t wait for the next one to start and those reasons will never fade.
Why do you do UniCamp? If a potential volunteer asks you why they should apply to UniCamp, what would you tell them? Share your answers with us below, or if you are interested in writing an article, email Evi at firstname.lastname@example.org.