Back in 2006 when camper Ruben was just 8 years old, he suddenly started having frequent fevers and headaches. He and his family were stunned to discover that these fevers and headaches were the result of a cancerous brain tumor.
As much as this misfortune was difficult for both him and his family, Ruben fought with all his strength, and beat cancer within a year. Even though the treatments and chemotherapy were a burden to pull through, Ruben wanted his journey to turn into something positive. He just didn’t exactly know how it was going to.
Ruben started coming to Camp in 2007, but the life changing turnaround Ruben was looking for happened in 2013 when he became a part of Camp’s teen program for campers 15+, the Wilderness Outdoor Leadership Program (W.O.L.P.). In a matter of one week of participating in W.O.L.P., he found his inner leader.
“The experiences that I shared with others in W.O.L.P. were so life-changing” Ruben shares. His favorite W.O.L.P. activities are Leadership and the backpacking hike. In Leadership, the W.O.L.P. Campers (“WOLPers”) participate in ice-breakers, games, and discussions that build up leadership skills through teamwork and communication. The hike is an overnight adventure where the WOLPers hike a few miles away from the campsite and go rock climbing, cook dinner, and most importantly, participate in the legendary “rainstorm” turned mud fight. Ruben enjoys how much closer the unit gets during the hike, which makes leading the rest of the week fun.
His first year of W.O.L.P. fell on the summer going into his first year in Link Crew, a program at his High School focused on helping freshmen transition into their new environment. He felt that being in W.O.L.P. gave him confidence to be a leader when he returned to school and started the important job of supporting freshmen.
Ruben is grateful for the confidence W.O.L.P. gave him, and is happy that the experience helped to build his character and prepare him to be a leader in his community. “Camp showed me what it's like to be in an environment that's positive, [where everyone feels] truly comfortable, even when stepping out of your comfort zone. Why not share that with others who live in society down the mountain which [isn’t always like that]?” He continues to apply his leadership skills in W.O.L.P, Link Crew, and anywhere else he can. Without W.O.L.P. or Camp, Ruben would’ve never had the opportunity to nurture his leadership skills in such a unique and safe community of support.