Camp Wildcat is a student-run, non-profit and on-campus club where University of Arizona students take local, Title I school students on cost-free camping trips.
Angelica Wilson is a UA psychology senior who has been involved in Camp Wildcat since her freshman year. Wilson is Camp Wildcat's chair this year, which facilitates the other board positions, recruits directors for the camps and communicates with the Tucson schools.
To join the club, potential members must be UA students and are required to take a brief D2L course on counselor training before their first trip. Wilson shared that there are about three trips per semester. The location varies per trip, but all camping trips are at local camping grounds. Wilson also mentioned that the next trip is in two weeks.
“We're going up by Globe and we're spending a weekend with a group of fifth graders. We’ll do arts and crafts, we have college talks, we play songs and do skits, hiking. Basically, it's just a chance for them to get a break,” Wilson said. “A lot of them have really stressful lives or are going through domestic violence and don't really get a lot of food. It's like a security for them to know that they're getting fed all weekend and a safe space to talk about anything that's happening at home and to realize that [post K-12] school, if they're interested, there are other career options available for them in the future.”
Alexa Basualdo is a board member alongside Wilson, holding the position of campus relations. Her job is to lead recruitment, send weekly updates to members and organize social events with fellow club members. Basualdo is a pharmaceutical sciences junior.
When asked about her favorite trip thus far, Basualdo shared that the pre-COVID-19 trip to Molino Basin in Mount Lemmon was the front runner. She recalled spending lots of quality time with the students and teaching them about future career paths they may not have imagined possible for themselves.
“The [kids] were asking a lot of questions about high school and college, and that was nice to see that they were so curious and determined,” Wilson said. “A lot of their families either didn't go and they're going to be first generation or they're just really scared. It's good to assure them and make them believe in themselves. I think that's the most rewarding part.”
Wilson shared that she has met the majority of her close friends through being a part of Camp Wildcat and her experience at these camps have really impacted her.
“The most rewarding part is knowing that we're making a difference in these kids' lives, and that it's all student-run and there's no adults that are taking part in it,” Wilson said. “It's cool to just see the smiles on the kids' faces at camp and I've even seen kids a couple years later, and they're like, ‘I still remember that camp and it helped me out a lot.’"
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