A Message From Velena Hernandez
Hi! As some of you may know, I've been volunteering with UCLA UniCamp for the past five summers. I started the program as a freshman in college, thinking that it would be a cool experience to take underserved youth camping in Big Bear. What I didn't know when I first started, that this program would change my life, and so many others around me. I thought I would mentor some kids, be able to hang out in the mountains, and have a good time. All this happened, but what I didn't realize is that I would be a part of what the volunteers like to call "Woodsey Magic." The best way to describe this phenomenon is a mixture of trust, full immersion in nature (there are no cell phones or internet up the mountain), the ability to be a child, and challenge yourself to be a better person through reflection and group activities. I've made friends I never could have imagined, learned great life lessons from some of these kids, laughed until I fell to the floor and couldn't get up, have had spider bites the size of baseballs, climbed a 50 foot tower, saw my first shooting star, and have been put to sleep by the sound of the Santa Ana river. Some of the kids we take have never gone camping before and most have never seen a sky full of so many stars, it lights up the night sky. This year, I plan to embark on a 26 mile hike with 20 kids to the top of the highest mountain peak in southern California, San Gogornio. The hike will be a great mental and physical challenge that the kids, my fellow volunteers, and I will have to face. In order for this hike to happen, I am faced with the challenge of fundraising $2,000. I appreciate any donation you are willing to give, as well as you spreading the word to your family, friends, and coworkers.