“Okay, Okay, Okay Okay Okay Hey!”
(^ This is one of our Troy Camp chants to get everyone’s attention – it sounds better in person with the whole group 🙂 )
There are very few places in this world where we let out the weirdest, most loud and childlike part of ourselves, and can then be totally socially accepted. I am proud to say that I belong to an organization that fosters such an environment. This week I’m super excited to tell you all about Troy Camp!
The community in Los Angeles surrounding USC is one that strongly feels the effects of poverty, oppression, and lack of opportunity. Schools struggle with retention rates, and many programs that offer valuable extracurriculars are being cut due to limitations in funding. Many families are severely limited socioeconomically in the resources they can provide for their children, and issues like domestic violence are commonplace. That’s where Troy Camp comes in. Troy camp is a completely student-run organization that has been in operation since 1947 at the University of Southern California, existing with the sole purpose of providing opportunities and resources for local children by offering five related programs.
The first, called SMASH, is after school tutoring and special programs for elementary school children, where members help children finish their schoolwork. Members spend an hour reviewing mathematics, reading, writing, history, science, and whatever else the kids are assigned. Troy Camp works closely with each partner school to best understand how to support each class of children. Many members become very attached to their tutoring groups since the same kids come every week, even hand-making and bringing in flashcards to help the kids learn difficult subjects. My own study group at Martin Luther King School was called “Team Pizza Pie,” and was composed of five children who learned to work together over the course of the semester to tackle their homework. The last half hour of SMASH, there is a fun time called “Marketplace” in which the kids get to do a fun craft project. The second program Troy Camp offers is called Special Programing, which sponsors several extracurriculars at a number of local schools in everything from dance to sports to music to science to earth studies. This is a great opportunity for kids to participate in a program not offered by their school. The next two programs are LIT (Leaders in Training) and TC Leads, which are programs for middle and high school students interested in leadership and development. These programs offer amazing mentorship and inspire local students to continue pursuing school despite often difficult home situations.
The last and final program, which is where Troy Camp earns its name, is CAMP, where over 180 children are taken to Idyllwild Pines campground for one week to enjoy the great outdoors. The experience is complete with cabins, campfire, and all sorts of fun and games. Troy Camp is completely free to all students who are accepted to attend, and throughout the rest of the following year these same kids are then invited to attend year-long programs at places like the Natural History Museum and Disneyland.
What Troy Camp offers to students is nothing short of life changing, and I love getting to see the joy on these kids faces when they come to SMASH or talk about Camp memories. In this same way, Troy Camp also offers a lot of joy to its members. Every member is given a funny camp name (founded usually in an embarrassing or silly story), and no name can be repeated, emphasizing the importance of every member. Our motto is TC Love, and its lived out every day! Every TC member also gets assigned a “Big” to help encourage and support them (shout out to my AWESOME Big Purpella, who is an amazing leader and person) and my new “Little” Dimple, who is a freshman and already killing it! In addition, Troy Camp offers an incredibly fun work environment, with all sorts of funny slogans and sayings and songs, like “Have You Ever Seen a Penguin Dancing?” which is especially great because it’s weird and makes absolutely no sense but makes everyone laugh and smile.
I love my TC family, and am so grateful to be part of this awesome group – I can’t imagine college without it. The LA community and the USC community are both made better with Troy Camp!
Check out some pictures of fun things we do in Troy Camp!Meet Madelina