California- San Bernadino Mountains

Samantha Ong

Where did you serve? 
Camp River Glen in the San Bernadino Mountains! We serve children of varying ages from low income groups by raising money to take them up to summer camp and facilitating the camp.

 

Were there any moments of culture shock that really stood out? 

Many of the kids were super mature for their age, stemming from the fact that they had difficult family histories and experiences. That probably conditioned them to cope with adversity much better than I could have at that age. Other than that, I didn’t feel any different from the kids- I think that’s a good thing for our cause because it was about getting people on the same level, regardless of background.

 

What organization did you serve with? Does it have a UCLA connection?

UCLA Unicamp is registered student charity that has been on campus since 1934.

 

Why did you choose this organization and location?

I first heard about Unicamp from my Den Camp facilitator, Mikey, who had gone to camp multiple times and really enjoyed it. When signups came around in winter, I recalled his recommendation and went to sign up out of curiosity. While filling out the application, I found out that it served the low income community, which made everything even better because it reminded me of my past volunteer experience in high school. The cause really resonates with me because I’d say I’m pretty privileged, and I want to be able to extend the same opportunities I had as a kid to others.

 

What lessons have you learned from your volunteer experience?

That I have so much to learn from service- it exposes you to different perspectives and people. It is a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle and selfish behavior you see in reality. I’m really grateful for that- it’s both humbling and empowering and isn’t something you can ever get enough of. Service shouldn’t ever be seen as a passive act of plain giving- you’re constantly working to build better communities by reaching out and strengthening relationships with those around you.
My idea of service also somewhat resonates with my session’s mission statement: ‘step forward with your ideas and views; who you show to the world is whoever you choose’. It’s a lot about coming out of your comfort zone and asserting yourself, and I saw that happen with the campers and myself as well. I think being with them taught me a lot about myself and about life- more than I could have learned on my own.

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The More You Know

Population Served Low Income Children from Los Angeles
Hours of Training for Volunteers 100
Service Organization UCLA UniCamp
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