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Into the woods

By Daily Bruin Staff

Feb. 2, 1999 9:00 p.m.

Wednesday, February 3, 1999

Into the woods

SUMMER: Swimming, hiking,

playing with youngsters:

it’s all in a day’s work for Bruin Woods

camp counselors.

By Michelle Navarro

Daily Bruin Senior Staff

While most UCLA students surf the net and scour the classifieds
for summer internships and jobs, a select few will be packing up
their shorts, sandals and bug spray.

Instead of answering phones at an office or waiting on tables at
a restaurant, 48 students will get to spend 12 weeks water-skiing,
hiking, putting on talent shows and roasting marshmallows up in
Lake Arrowhead at the UCLA alumni association Bruin Woods family

For almost 15 years, Bruin Woods has created the summer vacation
site for alumni to bring their families and reminisce with other
seasoned Bruins about their college days.

Within 10 weeks, the camp hosts 750 families providing
activities for both adults and children, most of which are manned
by current UCLA students.

"We hire UCLA students so the alumni can talk and relate with
them," said Mark Deason, on-campus Bruin Woods contact. "We don’t
always take people who are highly qualified; it’s really the
attitude that’s important. The students have to be happy and

Not only do the alumni benefit from the atmosphere the students
provide, but the students also gain a network of contacts from

Students are strongly encouraged to eat with the guests and are
usually informed beforehand of the alumni’s careers so they may
choose the appropriate table at which to dine.

"You make a ton of alumni connections," said James Young, a
fourth-year history student. "So many come up to the camp and
they’re more than happy to give a fellow UCLA student a job."

On average, 200 students apply to work at Bruin Woods, but less
than 50 will get to go.

"They try and get so many different types," said LeBaron Meyers,
a former employee and communications studies student.

"You need to be outgoing and excited to work with people. But
there is really no prototype because they like to attract different
people with different abilities. There’s 47 other students with
their own quirky talents," Meyers said.

It isn’t hard to see why a variety of talents are needed for the
camp, since the jobs offered to students range from piano player
and cub counselor to pool staff and arts and crafts counselor. A
few jobs require specialized training, for example American Red
Cross lifeguard certification.

"I became a fishing guide, so I was fishing and getting paid for
it," Young said. "(The camp) has been the defining point in my
college career. It’s something I’ll always remember."

Former employees have nothing but fond memories and favorable
compliments about their experiences. Most are directed towards how
the camp changed their own lives.

"You learn so much about yourself and you develop a lot of
friendships," Meyers said. "Counselors have even gotten married

"On the first day there you meet 47 other college kids and you
don’t know anyone, but by the end of the 12th week, you’ve made 47
new best friends," Young said. "The job is incredible; it’s
one-half work and one-half experience with college kids. Bruin
Woods is a great opportunity to grow up because you do a lot of
maturing and you get a lot of close friends."

Most of the bonding between the students, though, occurs in
Cedar Lodge, the counselors’ two-story house during the summer.

After a whole day spent with the families, the staff members
return to their quarters and socialize, especially on Saturday
nights when they have the most free time.

"Saturday night is when all the old families leave and the new
ones come; it’s the completion of the week," she said.

Young, was a little more descriptive of how the student staff
choose to celebrate.

"The whole summer was one big party, like a big frat party," he

"The parties were great. Most of them ended up with everyone
jumping in the lake naked," Young added.

Students also get one day off during the week, and apparently
they all squeeze every minute out of it.

"With one day off a week, you would be shocked with what can fit
in those hours," Meyers said. "We go to Las Vegas, San Diego,
Rosarito – we go as far as we can and have a great time."

Although the job may appear to be one huge party, it does entail
a lot of work and responsibility. It calls upon the leadership
abilities, patience and understanding of students.

An appreciation for the outdoors is a must, and endurance is
necessary for anyone working with children. The length of the camp
in itself requires someone able to handle the constant activity. In
fact, those who stay the entire 12 weeks and keep within staff
rules and policies qualify for a bonus in their paycheck.

"It takes a really energetic person who loves kids and isn’t too
shy," Young said. "It takes someone who knows life is a party and
who is willing to get naked and swim in the lake."

Applications for Bruin Woods are now available and are due Feb.
8. For more information or an application, contact Mark Deason at
(310) 208-1702.Related site:

UCLA Alumni Association

Comments, feedback, problems?

© 1998 ASUCLA Communications Board[Home]

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