I love summer camp. I was lucky enough to get to go every year starting in about 4th grade all the way through High School. First, I went to Frontier Ranch and then I went to Ponderosa Lodge both in the redwoods near Santa Cruz. 40 years later I still remember the lyrics we sang around the glow of the campfire with our goofy counselors:
I’ve come back to Frontier Rach just like I did the year before,
and I’m going to keep on coming till they won’t let me come any more
I would go back again if I could. Being in the forest, sleeping in tent cabins, archery, games, campfires – it was an experience that left a profound impression on me. Now as a father I love sending my kids to summer camp too. When they come home they are grubby, exhausted, beaming with confidence, and glowing with the joy of new friendships.
As a parent though, I have also come to realize these life milestones don’t come cheap. One week can be $700 just for the registration.
My most profound experience at camp was not the camps I went to as a kid. It was later as a student at UCD. I was recruited by some friends last minute to be a counselor at Cal Aggie Camp. I had no idea what I was getting in to. I came to discover that even better than getting to go to camp yourself, was creating that opportunity for, and experiencing it with, kids who would not have the opportunity otherwise.
Cal Aggie Camp is largely funded by students, and is run by students, “for underprivileged youth in the Davis and Sacramento communities,” as stated in the mission statement on their website. This is a very tangible way the students of UCD are giving back to our community. Not only do they pay all the expenses for the kids, since 1961 students have administered and staffed the camp. It’s great work experience for the UCD students, but the magic they give the kids is worth far more.
The Cal Aggie Camp tradition continues today with new counselors with names like Jellybean, Posh, Maple, Eskimo, Echo and Skipper leading adventures with the kids, but there is a place you can fit into this too. the camp is free for the campers. Though the camp is funded largely by the students with every UCD student contributing 50 cents with their registration each quarter, it is not quite enough to cover all the costs of the program. There is a Gala and Silent Auction fundraising event next weekend.
Cal Aggie Camp presents “A night under the Stars” Saturday May 4th 7-9pm at the Walter Buehler Alumni Center. The official announcement encourages everyone to “Come support the foster youth from the greater Sacramento area!” Tickets are available at https://myrecreation.ucdavis.edu by searching "Night Under the Stars." It will pop up immediately.
Students are $25 and non-students are $35. “Your ticket will include dinner, 1 drink, and a night under the stars, literally!”
You can learn more and see profiles of the new counselors on the Cal Aggie Camp Facebook page.