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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Celebrating Camp Wildcat

Courtesy+of+Catherine+Patton+Camp+Wildcat+aims+to+mentor+underprivileged+children+in+the+Tucson+area.+This+weekend+the+Camp+will+be+celebrating+its+50th+anniversary.

Courtesy of Catherine Patton

Camp Wildcat aims to mentor underprivileged children in the Tucson area. This weekend the Camp will be celebrating its 50th anniversary.

This weekend, Camp Wildcat, a student-run organization that mentors kids in need, will be celebrating its 50th anniversary. Camp Wildcat has been providing a free and fun outdoor experience for underprivileged children since 1965. The program also encourages these children to attend college and set life-long goals. This weekend will play host to a number of events and activities to commemorate the long-lived program. 

The camp’s events will range from fundraisers to activites, and the Arizona Historical Society Museum will host a meet and greet Friday at 6:30 p.m. The following morning, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the UA Mall, is the kids’ Fun Fest, where alumni and current members of Camp Wildcat will put on educational activities. There will be a silent auction from 6-9:30 p.m. Saturday in the Grand Ballroom of the Student Union Memorial Center.

These events are a way for Camp Wildcat alumni to interact with current volunteers as well as Title 1 kids, who are the focus of the program, according to Catherine Patton, community relations chair for Camp Wildcat. 

Volunteers for the program spend time as counselors at one of several camps and hike with the participating youngsters. The camps are divided into Big Camps, where 40 to 60 children are led by about 40 counselors on camping trips to Mount Lemmon. Adventure Camps, smaller hikes to Madera Canyon and similar places, include 20 to 35 kids and about as many counselors. 

Food and transportation are provided free of charge to the kids who come on the trips, with meals cooked by counselors.  

“As a counselor, my job is to be there and support the kids, whether it be through songs, games, hikes and life talks,” said Justice Onwordi, a volunteer and counselor for Camp Wildcat. “We interact with the kids through various rotations that involve skits, crafts and games. Our main priority is to guide the kids and motivate them to be the best they can be in life, and to encourage them to attain all their goals in life while still getting an education.” 

The campers are from the Tucson area, with the schools acting as intermediaries between Camp Wildcat and interested youth. Schools submit an application, and each school is selected about every three to four years.

Counselors are hired on a basis of interest, for those who want to get involved in the free to join club. Camp Wildcat’s website, UofACampWildcat.org, provides more information and a listserv registration. The club meets every week, though attendance isn’t mandatory.

“You can be as committed or uncommitted as you want,” said Cassidy Solper, natural resources senior and chair of the club.

For these volunteers, it is more than just fun and games. 

“I got to change kids’ lives over a weekend, and that is really cool and powerful,” Solper said. 

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Follow Erik Kolsrud on Twitter.

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