Be Somebody

By Molly “Do Re Mi” Bamberger

Kid President always says, 

“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.”

— Wise words from a 12-year-old serving only his fourth year in “office.” For those of you who haven’t heard of Robby Novak, he is a young social media star striving to make the world “more awesome” by creating videos that spread love and positive energy to all corners of the world. And we all know that this ever-challenging planet needs that love right about now. 

That’s where Troy Camp comes in. I was lucky enough to join this magical organization during my first year at school, and I can say with absolute confidence that there is no place where you’ll find as many loving “somebodyies” who care for everybody as you will in USC’s Troy Camp.

When I began my time in Troy Camp I was, as with any new venture, quite nervous. Questions brewed about in my mind. What will the kids think of me? Will I be able to connect in the way that they need? Can I really balance leadership and friendship? Questions such as these are normal, as anyone who has embarked on the journey of mentorship will know.

But then there were the questions I admit to less readily. Will the other counselors like me? Will I be accepted into their already seasoned social dynamic? Will I be able to fully give myself to these kids if I don’t feel a connection to the other counselors and to the organizatation as a whole? Luckily, these pesky little questions were quickly answered. Yes, they liked and accepted me… as they do everybody else. These are some of the kindest people I have ever known — acceptance is simply in their DNA. And of course we will all be there for the kids no matter what happens within the counselor circle. There’s a reason the word “commitment” is in our organization’s motto. Troy Camp counselors will always love each other and our kiddos regardless of whatever is or could be going on. That’s just what families do.

Now that all sounds fine and dandy, but you might be wondering how I came to the undeniable realization that Troy Camp is, truly, one big family. As I said, I was nervous during my first few TC events, but the adjustment to the weekly commitments of Troy Camp wasn’t the scary part. No, what really intimidated me was our first “kids’ event” of the year, meaning the first of our monthly events for the campers from the previous year. These were kids who had already met and connected with the older counselors at camp. They had already developed plenty of wonderful relationships. Who was I to come in and encroach on their world? 

Of course, looking back, I now know that the kids are warm and welcoming toward everyone. But how was I to know that at the time? And so, I arrived at my first kids’ event mentally prepared for what I thought would be an extremely challenging situation. I was set to work with cabin G1, and I was, as per usual, exceedingly nervous. I got to 32nd Street’s grassy knoll and awaited the ten fourth-grade G1 girls with loaded anticipation.

Fast forward three months.

Four Months.

Five Months.

Six Months.

… You get the picture. From the moment I met them, these ten incredible girls and their equally incredible cabin counselors made me feel as if I had always been with them. I became part of their tribe, part of their crew, part of their family. How? Well to answer that, we have to go back to the brilliant words of the one and only Kid President. The reason I was accepted into this family, the reason everyone is accepted and cherished here, is simple. In the Troy Camp family, for kids and counselors alike, everybody is a somebody.

Troy Camp is Like Magic

By Andie “Diglett” Furber

On the last night of camp in 2014, my third grade campers and I were sitting in the meadow underneath the stars. To close our week at camp, we were reflecting upon the memories we had made, the friendships we had built, and sharing the magic of summer camp one last time. Just before we headed to bed, my quietest camper chimed in, saying, “I can’t go home yet. Troy Camp is like magic.”

Well, she was right. Troy Camp is like magic. But even more, Troy Camp is home. In my three years as a Troy Camp counselor, I have built a home with my fellow counselors and our campers: a place where I feel comfortable, important, and happy. Troy Camp gives me a purpose, and assures me that being myself is more than enough. Troy Camp provides a special little place for each of our counselors and campers where amazing things can happen.

Troy Camp is where kids can be kids. Totally removed from “real life,” our campers can ride horses, play make-believe, and show off what makes them special.

Troy Camp is where people can be whoever they want to be. At Troy Camp, I go by “Diglett,” and Diglett is absolutely the best version of myself. Diglett is energetic, unfailingly positive, and unafraid to be herself. I can only hope that our campers feel that same comfort and ease around their counselors and each other.

Troy Camp is a place of love. A wise counselor, Sofa, once said that Troy Camp taught him to love people unconditionally, and he was absolutely right. At Troy Camp, there is an indescribable care and love that touches everybody. 

After I graduate, when I think of my “home” at USC, I won’t think of my apartments, or my houses, or even the campus itself. I will think of Troy Camp. Troy Camp has this special way of making everybody feel loved, special, and in place. At Troy Camp, everybody belongs.

One Word Defining Troy Camp

by Alex “Tiny Dancer” Chen

There is no exact word in the English language to describe Troy Camp, so I had to resort to another language entirely–Danish.

Hy•gge (n.): the art of building sanctuary and community, of inviting closeness and paying attention to what makes us feel open hearted and alive: a coziness of the soul.

I believe that Troy Camp is hygge.  It is more than coziness and friendship.  Hygge fosters happiness, connection, and wellbeing.  This is the sort of community that I have found within Troy Camp.  My campers, my co-counselors and friends I have found within Troy Camp all contribute to the sense of hygge that I consistently feel whenever participating in something Troy Camp related.

It’s impossible to exactly describe the warm and fuzzies I get when I see my cabin.  What I can say, however, is the impact that TC has had on my life ultimately centers around this idea of hygge.  Each moment I spend with my campers, whether we’re watching a movie together, or riding Indiana Jones at Disneyland together, contributes to that sense of hygge.  Singing Purple Lights? That’s hygge too. Staring up at the stars, and listening to camp stories? Definitelyhygge. Camp and hygge just seem to go hand-in-hand.

Hygge goes beyond the camp experience as well.  The empowerment and lifelong relationships that I have been able to form with students in high school have been equally similar in that they are hygge.  Watching a high school senior get into her college of choice? That’s hygge.  Sitting in a circle, eating spaghetti, attempting to play an insane game of Mafia with forty high schoolers at the TC Leads retreat? That’s hygge too.

Hygge is about appreciating what we have, what we give and what we receive.  It’s simply about being with and connecting to the people who mean most to us, without being sentimental–yet it’s enchanting and wholeheartedly impossible to describe in words.  In a way, it is entirely sentimental as well.  This is Troy Camp to me.

I believe in Troy Camp just as much as I believe in hygge–which is to say, I believe in it much more than I do most things. I believe in the power of simple–yet strong–relationships that can last a lifetime, much more than I believe in overcooked kale from EVK, orange chicken from Panda Express, and coffee (trust me, that’s saying a lot)..

No matter who you are, this simple Danish principle can put a lot into perspective of what we appreciate, who we are, and why we’re here–and maybe you, prospective counselor, can find that in Troy Camp too. I know I have.

Tiny Dancer is a rising junior, studying GeoDesign, Natural Science and Public Health.  At camp, he has been a 4th Grade Cabin Counselor and a Wacky; during the year he attends SMASH, LIT, and TC Leads.  Outside of Troy Camp, he is a tour guide for the USC Office of Admission, a researcher for the Spatial Sciences Institute, and is an avid rock climber. He prefers satsumas to tangerines and puts Sriracha on virtually anything that could use a little spicing up

Beyond These Walls

By: Lilian “Whac-a-mole” Aluri

For all of my life, I have existed in some kind of a bubble.  Leaving my home in Columbia, South Carolina, I thought I was escaping the bubble of that “old provincial town.”  Little did I know then, I was only exchanging one walled-in community for another, this time one literally surrounded by gates.  As different as the world of USC was from my upbringing, I quickly began to understand that the student community I lived in was not necessarily closer to the “real world” than my hometown.

While there is nothing inherently wrong with immersing yourself within a single community, I have found that relationships, faith, and ambition all become more meaningful when taken out of comfortable contexts.  It is natural for us to find what’s comfortable and make a home there.  Yet, there is something incredibly rewarding and cultivating about leaving our comfort zones and challenging ourselves to level up.  

Troy Camp has provided me with a door to the world outside USC and broadened my perspective on issues of family, culture, and economics.  Oddly, the older I get and the more I see of the world, the more I realize that I have yet to learn and understand.  I have grown to love our city and the people in it.

This fall, we are inviting you to join us in our commitment to friendship through becoming a Troy Camp counselor.  Whether or not Troy Camp is for you, I encourage you to seek out ways to leave the bubble of USC and become involved in the community just surrounding Los Angeles.  There are so many wonderful programs at USC that will challenge you and stretch your understanding of the world.  So, travel, teach, explore, design, create, write, and read your way into the world outside your comfort zone.

10 Things I Learned During my First Year as a Troy Camp Counselor

By: Jason "Gnomeo" Mierczynski

I joined Troy Camp this past year as a sophomore, and during my first exciting year, I learned so many new things about myself, our organization, and the great kids we work with.


1.) Troy Camp is one of USCs Oldest and Largest Student Run Organizations

Founded in 1948 by Otis Healy, Troy Camp has been an organization of mentorship and leadership for hundreds of kids in the Los Angeles area. The Troy Camp Legacy is a powerful one, and when joining Troy Camp, you join the family of counselors that take you back more than half a century. I thought it was super cool to join such a tight-knit organization that dates back so far, and is still so connected.

2.) Troy Camp is STUDENT RUN… AKA Everything is done by counselors.

I was so surprised that everything done by Troy Camp was done 100% by counselors-from everyday programming, to finances, to the biggest fundraisers, to planning camp itself, all of the things that happen for this organization are planned and organized by students at USC. This really empowered me to want to get more involved to make everything as good as it could be.

3.) Club meetings CAN be fun!

Before joining TC, I was told that the TC meetings were more exciting and energetic than your average club meeting. I was surprised though by just how exciting these meetings actually were! Troy Camp meetings are a total blast, with chants, songs, and funny stories that keep you engaged and excited about the information and upcoming camp events.

4.) There’s always room for personal growth!

Everyone, even new members, have the opportunity to push themselves for leadership roles and positions. This past year, I was Assistant Director of Pass the Can (one of our fundraisers), as well as SMASH head at West Vernon. I was more excited and motivated to get involved after having these positions and am now on the Executive Board for next school year. Everyone has the opportunity to get involved with a position of leadership to make an impact on our kids and this organization!

5.) You can commit to 1 hour a week, or 10!

I have a busy schedule without Troy Camp, so when I got in, I was worried that I would not be able to do much to help. Luckily, there are so many different facets and programs at Troy Camp that you can pretty much get involved with any busy schedule. Through attending different elementary school programs during the day, to middle/high school programs at night, to working on committees throughout the week, anyone can make their schedules fit to Troy Camp, and you can commit as much or as little as you want to.

6.) Middle Schoolers aren’t “Too cool for school”

When I was an LITeam Leader for our Leaders in Training program with the middle schoolers, I was apprehensive and worried that they would be in that “too cool” phase that so many of us went through during those early teenage years. Luckily, my co, Doodlebob, and I had a great group of kids and it was fun to get them excited about the programming and workshops. LIT has become one of my favorite things about Troy Camp.

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 5.25.07 PM.png

7.) High Schoolers are still so eager to learn and excited for their future.

These high schoolers are the absolute best kids in the world. Something I find absolutely incredible is that some of these kids have been coming to Troy Camp events since they were in elementary school. They have committed almost 10 years of their lives to this organization and have really given themselves to the opportunity to grow and develop through this organization. This past semester, I became very close with one of the Junior Counselors, Jupiter. It was awesome to learn about him, his dreams and ambitions, and be able to help him make goals and work to achieve them. I even had the opportunity to take Jupiter to one of my film classes during the semester to help him get a hands on experience in the film school, which is his dream school. TC Leads and the bond I have created with Jupiter have become one of the most impactful things I have done at Troy Camp.

8.) There is something so special about having my own cabin of kids.

This past year at camp, I was lucky enough to have my own cabin of third graders, themed “B2 Time Travelers.” I was super anxious to meet my 9 energetic and excited boys, and had no idea what to expect. Something so special about having my own cabin of kids was that I had the opportunity to learn about each of them individually. The time I spent with each of my boys one-on-one to learn about their lives in school and their families was such a meaningful experience for me and for them. We had a blast all week, but I think the most impactful experience of camp was the time I got to spend with each of my boys.

9.) TCounselors are some of the greatest people I have ever met.

I joined this organization to make a difference in the community-but something I did not expect is that I would end up finding some of my best friends at USC in Troy Camp. From football games, to movie nights, to study nights, to even random road trips up the California coast over spring break, the times I have spent with some of the friends I have made in Troy Camp are some that I will never forget. The TCounselors are all the best, and I can’t wait to spend more time with them in the upcoming years.

10.) These. Kids. Are. AMAZING.

ver the year, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know so many different kids throughout every program in Troy Camp. I can honestly say that these kids are some of the smartest, wittiest, sassiest, and most fun kids I have ever met, and I have loved getting to spend as much time with them as possible. From school programming, to different yearlong events, to LIT or TCLeads, Troy Camp has given me the opportunity to be a mentor and role model to some of the coolest kids, and I am so lucky to have been given the opportunity to play a role in these kids’ lives.

 

 

 

 

I Believe in Summer Camp

a brief memoir of my first Troy Camp

By: Sierra “Piggy Bank” Lai

Hold up two fingers and you will have the number of times I cried during camp this year, my first year as a Troy Camp counselor (a cabin counselor, nonetheless). You would think that having the best first camp experience and crying couldn’t happen in the same time frame, but for all the right reasons, tears were shed.

Let me preface this by saying that I am not a crier. Yes, I cry during most romantic comedies and at graduations, but I would say that I keep it pretty cool.

The first time: At our nightly counselor meeting, the Co-Executives read a message we received from a former camper. He left a short, yet poignant, positive, and honest message about the impact Troy Camp has had on him and his hopes that his sister would share his experiences. When I discovered his sister was a camper in my cabin (my camper!), the effect we could and do have on the kids we work with became very tangible for me. My tears surprised me, but that was the moment I really felt the weight of my role in this organization and how important it was not only for my campers, but also for me to give it my all and not take any moment for granted. 

The second time: At the very last campfire, every cabin chooses someone to dedicate a pinecone to. Between the warmth of the fire, 190 other campers facing us, and my cabin’s eagerness to reveal their dedication, only a heartless-monster-robot-animal wouldn’t have cried! I never could have imagined how a week would turn complete strangers into family, yet here we are… writing about my new favorite place, new favorite people, and new favorite week of the year.

As a new member of the organization, being a cabin counselor was intimidating. Between literallybeing responsible for 10 small children and being a new college student pretty insufficient at taking care of herself, I felt overwhelmed. While I did have an entire year of working with our kids during programming and learning from other members, camp is different. It’s the week everyone waits for. It’s the week everyone talks about. It’s the week where we learn more about our campers, each other, and ourselves. All of the returning members told me it was going to be the most magical week of my life and while I fully believed it could be…they were not exaggerating.

After being an active member and counselor in Troy Camp for a full year, I believe in summer camp. I believe in letting kids be kids. I believe in the joy that a good story and s’mores can bring. Summer camp is a place far different from the real world. It’s a place where we remember that life can be really simple. It’s a place where everyone becomes the best version of himself or herself. It’s a place for many firsts, but certainly not lasts.

For the first time, I was excited by the ordinary. The smallest things amazed my cabin. From finding a really big walking stick on our hikes to talking for hours about seeing the ape-man, I knew these small magical things were only magical because we were at camp.

Our location in Idyllwild Pines, two hours away from Los Angeles, is the furthest away from home many of our campers have been. Its distance and seclusion from the “real world” comes with distance from technology, problems, and worries. Summer camp lets our kids, who often can’t be kids like most of us were allowed to be, be kids. And for the first time, they look at things with the curiosity, intensity, and playfulness they should have. 

I laughed at everything that made my campers happy because they were things that were so ordinary that I remembered how unnecessarily complex we make life. Sometimes just a good moment (or in many cases, the promise of s’mores at campfire or dessert at dinner) could solve any problem.

For the first time, I went by “Piggy Bank” and called all of my friends similarly strange names for an entire week. She is someone I want to be all the time. She is enthusiastic about everything, not afraid to be silly, not glued to her phone, and incredibly selfless.

Summer camp brings out the best in people. Everyone in Troy Camp takes on the best version of himself or herself the moment their camp name becomes the only thing they are called. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but something inside of you comes out when you’re charged with ensuring the well being of nearly 200 campers. It’s an environment where there is no judgment, and everyone is on the same page.

We put our campers first. There are very few other places I know where there’s as much dedication to one goal from so many people. Being “Piggy Bank” for a week showed me parts of myself that I want to bring to my everyday life, even when I’m away from camp.

So, yes, I believe in summer camp, but more than that, I believe in Troy Camp. Summer camp is a place where everyone is happy, everyone is filled with wonder, and everyone revels in the simplicity of our world.  What we do for our community is so important and that became very apparent at my first year in Idyllwild Pines. Every single smile, laugh, tear, or sigh was the result of the work of some of the best people I know (co-counselors I’m lucky to call my friends), a dedication to the work we do, and the belief that a summer camp can help shape someone’s life. While this was my first camp and our kids experienced many firsts, this certainly isn’t the last time any of us will be touched by the experiences we shared this year. 

As a returning member to Troy Camp this upcoming fall, I can sing TC songs in my sleep, chant color team cheers for hours, and describe fire camp rituals in unnecessary and lengthy detail. Yet, I’ve still got a lot to learn and am looking forward to another great year with my closest friends, current and future. I hope you’ll join us on the wildest and most rewarding ride of your life. I can’t promise you won’t cry.

21 Major Things That Happened In Troy Camp In 2015-2016

By: Martin “Rotisserie’ Torres

2015-2016 was a major year for all things Troy Camp!

1.) A new E-Board begins a journey of greatness

Here you can see the 2015-2016 E-Board attempting to take a group picture; but you have to give it to them, they rocked a great year for TC

2. We started the search for a new class of amazing counselors

TC searched far and wide for the next new member class of counselors who would make the organization as great as it was. After a long time of interviews and applications, about 88 new members were recruited for the best time they could ever imagine.

3. Aaaaaand the New Members take over!

ounselor Affairs Director Diglett and AD QWOP led the new members on their retreat through the mountains! What a great day.

screenshot-2016-06-09-21-39-32.png

4. Natural History Museum ft. Double Dare

The first Kids Event (where we bring back all of the kids who went to camp the past summer for a fun day of activities once a month) with the newest class of counselors was held at the Natural History Museum; I got to meet B3 (which would become my future cabin) and see what a messy and fun time Double Dare was!

screenshot-2016-06-09-21-39-50.png

5. PASS THE CAN!!!

irector of Fundraising for Pass the Can, Fishstick, spearheaded one of the most successful Pass the Cans in TC’s history raising almost $29K. Not only did we get to hang out with the cabins while watching USC win on our own turf, but raise money to send future kids to camp as well!

6. LIT goes to the Getty!

Oh LIT, a program dear to my heart. For their fall retreat, these middle schoolers (who are all past campers!) and counselors had a great cultural filled day exploring the Getty!

7. GGGEEEAAAARRR!!

hances are you’ve seen others or myself on campus wearing these or any other TC apparel 24/7. It’s comfy, nice, and on par with (if not better than) USC gear if you ask me.

8. SP Dance @ the Expressions Showcase

TBT to the time where the 3rd-5th graders (from our after school programs at local elementary schools) were able to dance better than myself and the other counselors in front of an audience of hundreds! These kids are talented.

9. DISNEY

Here is B5 at Disneyland; but all 20 cabins enjoyed a very magical day at the happiest place on Earth. Whether it was riding Splash Mountain, meeting Mickey, or just walking in the park, you see the magic fill the kids’ hearts.

10. S'mores and TC Love

Right before break, the Secret Santa exchange occurred and a bonfire was held at Car Gar. The TC love was real

11.  Aaaaaand we’re back!

Dreams Day kicked off the first yearlong event back for TC- shout out to the photo booth of wacky pictures for all the cabins. Various student organizations (and even local firefighters!) volunteered to inspire our campers to follow their dreams!

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 7.45.29 PM.png

2. TC Leads

Our TC Lead students (high school students who went to camp when they were younger) led the stations at our March Kid’s Event. Some of them even returned to camp this year to be JCs (Junior Counselors)!

13. Sleepover Time!

This year’s director of Yearlong, Purpella (pictured above in the white onsie) planned a Sleepover in the TCC Campus Ballroom for all cabins along with a special appearance from magician Christian Ford (AKA Christian the Magician) from Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Plus Monsters University before bed was the icing on the cake.

14. You know what Spring Retreat means… Camp is Coming!

We headed up the mountain to Idyllwild Pines (the camp where our namesake Troy Camp is held each summer) to get in camp mode! At Spring retreat the color teams, co-counselors, and more were revealed as we all got ready to welcome the kids in May!

15. Pancakes? I mean Pancakes!!!

Troy Camp had a fundraiser with the always delicious local breakfast joint: Jacks N Joe. Order the best chocolate chip pancakes in the world, the Roo’s favorite and 100% of the money goes to TC! Win/Win!

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 7.49.36 PM.png

6. GALA!

hile I was not able to partake in Gala, I heard the event was a blast. A special shoutout to  Rickshaw for planning such an amazing event and raising the most ever in TC History!

17. TC End of the Year Banquet

Wow, this year flew by. And just when you thought the new member class posts were done, I have squeezed one last picture. Each Troy Camp experience is different, but these people right here (and some who couldn’t make it) gave their heart and soul for our kids. I’m excited to see where we all go going forward. #2015/2016NewMembersRule (Thank You Diglett for being a great Counselor Affairs Mentor) As well, each senior gave a speech of how much TC means to him or her, and with that, it really showed me that Troy Camp truly is home.

18. Time for Pre-Campppp!

After a whole year of waiting, it was time to pack up, buy decorations, and plan out last minute things before we headed over to Idyllwild for that weeklong magical camp. Can’t you tell we’re excited?

19. And the week has come!

This week spent up in the mountains with my wonderful cabin B3 was the most magical week. From campfire to the Amazing Race to Feed Your Counselor lunch and everything in between, I couldn’t have asked for a better week. I can’t wait to see my campers again in September for our first Yearlong event!

20. Last Campfire...

his definitely was one of the most magical nights of the whole camp: the last campfire. By this time you’ve experienced it all, you’ve had one of the best weeks of your life and it hits you that this is the last night. With a special song and dedication, tears of sadness and joy may come out (Tears were certainly rolling down my face) but it is here when you realize just how special Troy Camp is.

21. One Magical Year filled with lots of TC Love

And with that, my first year in Troy Camp ended. But my TC love for all the counselors and my own cabin keeps going. Being part of LIT, TC Leads, Smash, Yearlong, and Camp itself allowed me to find a home at USC and friends that I know will be there for life. I highly recommend anybody interested to join: it is a decision you will not regret. And as they say “There are small ships and tall ship, and ships that sail the sea. But the best ships are friendships, and may they ever be.”

Extra: 22. TC Love never ends, so let’s see what 2016-2017 brings forth!