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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UA students help the underprivileged through Camp Wildcat

Sarah+Fischer%2C+Vice+Chair+of+Camp+Wildcat+a+physiology+senior%2C+and+Sarah+Findysz%2C+Chair+of+Camp+Wildcat+sit+in+the+Camp+Wildcat+office+on+Tuesday%2C+Oct.+27.+Camp+Wildcat+currently+holds+9+camps+a+year.
Tom Price

Sarah Fischer, Vice Chair of Camp Wildcat a physiology senior, and Sarah Findysz, Chair of Camp Wildcat sit in the Camp Wildcat office on Tuesday, Oct. 27. Camp Wildcat currently holds 9 camps a year.

For over 50 years, Camp Wildcat has taken underprivileged youth on cost-free camping trips.

Sarah Fischer, vice chair of Camp Wildcat and physiology senior, said it’s a student run non-profit organization that works only with Title I schools, where 60 percent or more of the families whose children attend the school live at or below the line of poverty.

“A lot of the students we work with have never considered the idea of going to college,” Fischer said. “Our main goal is to promote college and general success as goals they actually can achieve.”

Sarah Findysz, chair of Camp Wildcat, said they have nine camps a year, two of which are counselor training camps in both the fall and spring. They have four big camps a year which have about 40-60 fourth and fifth-graders, there’s two adventure camps of 20-30 seventh and eighth-graders, and a Grand Canyon camp with seventh and eighth-graders.

“I think Camp Wildcat is important for kids because it opens their eyes towards their future, and that there’s so many different opportunities and options once you graduate high school,” Findysz said.

Lucy Patterson, a fourth and fifth-grade teacher at the Mary Belle McCorkle Academy of Excellence said her class is very lucky to participate in the Camp Wildcat pen pal program, where they build relationships over several months and really have a chance to have a positive influence in their life.

Patterson, a 2010 graduate from the UA, is a Camp Wildcat alumna and former chair of the organization. She said her students always look forward to receiving their letters from Camp Wildcat each month.

“Camp Wildcat was my unofficial major, it was my driving passion and everything came secondary to Camp Wildcat,” Patterson said. “Camp Wildcat goes beyond just kids and camping, it is a chance to do something in the real world—have actual responsibilities and make an impact in the world.”

Camp Wildcat is a student-run organization; all the planning and fundraising is done by UA students. Fischer said they plan fun and engaging activities for each camp and that it is a lot of fun to see how kids open up and make friends throughout the period of the camp.

The last camp took place at Whitetail campground and had fourth and fifth-graders from Mission View Elementary School.

Fischer said after each camp they take camper surveys that are then submitted to the school. According to her, they have only ever received positive feedback.

Fishcer said if schools wish to participate in one of the camps, they can simply apply for the program through Camp Wildcat’s website, and that if students are wishing to volunteer with the organization they can sign up for their email list on campwildcat.org.

While there are only about 40 or so active members of Camp Wildcat, Fischer said there is a lot more students who volunteer off and on when they can.

“It’s as much as a time commitment as you want it to be,” Fischer said. “It’s a great way to gain good leadership skills and make an impact on the lives of kids, which is pretty rewarding in itself.”


Follow Chastity Laskey on Twitter.


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