Mission

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The uCamps mission is to bring happiness to campers, grades 2-12, by providing fun, educational enrichment programs. Our unique combination of games, activities, and workshops enhance self-expression, instill confidence, inspire imagination, and support individual as well as group appreciation and acceptance. By exercising patience, compassion, active listening, and self-observation, participants achieve a heightened awareness of their inner strengths and talents. Presented in a safe and nurturing, team-oriented environment, our programs reinforce the importance of integrity, responsibility, friendship, family, and community.

uCamps is Home

(Many uCampers grow up to become uStaff)

The foundation for uCamps was established in 2000, when Dr. Garo Mirigian, Principal at Centerville Jr. High School in Fremont, California, took a risk by hiring recent college graduate Doug “Bald E” Cembellin to take over the drama program at his school. In 2001, “Joe White and the Seven Lizards”, a 20 min. one-act play with a cast of 17, was performed as the result of a newly formed after school program. In summer 2003, the Centerville Jr. High School gym played host to the first uCamps, under the name “Summer Drama Camp” (SDC), serving 55 students.

In 2004, with construction scheduled for the Centerville gym, SDC was left without a facility. While that door shut, another was open as YMCA Camp Loma Mar, in the Santa Cruz Mountains, became available for one week due to a last minute cancellation. Many of Bald E’s friends from the art, music, film, and theatre communities came together to staff the first overnight camp, attended by 150 campers. Coincidentally, Loma Mar is the same camp attended by Bald E in 1986 as a 6th grader and again in 1990 as a junior in high school when he returned as a counselor.

In 2005, more than 200 campers had registered for SDC by May 1st, selling out the program. The decision was made to open a second camp just down the street at YMCA Camp Jones Gulch, serving an additional 60 campers. For 2006, SDC was offered a second week of facility use at Loma Mar, creating the opportunity for three sessions of camp, including a two week session. In 2007, SDC expanded their programming to include Camp Sempervirens, near Big Basin State Park with the addition of Discovery and FAME Camp.

2008 was a big year for SDC. The “Rock Star Program” was introduced, supporting campers and staff in bettering themselves and the world. SDC also offered the first ever Winter Camp, serving 55 campers.

In 2009, SDC changed its name to uCamps, launched a whole new series of Outdoor Adventure Camps, and moved the Original SDC Camps from Loma Mar to a wonderful new facility, Camp Maymac. 2009 also marked the first year of the Leaders in Training (LIT) program, graduating 18 high school students, many of whom have gone on to work as camp staff.

In 2010, Bald E was accepted into the University of Southern California’s prestigious graduate film school, which gave rise to the first ever SoCal Camp at YMCA Camp Whittle. That same year, uCamps offered its first family camp. The next year, uCamps SoCal moved to Pilgrim Pines. In 2013 the SoCal LIT program began and in 2014, uCamps’ launched both its Spring Break program as well as ‘Creating Campus Culture’, a series of weekend retreats for middle and high schoolers during the fall and spring. Each year, uCamps evolves and grows, but several things remain constant: great campers, great staff, great art, and great fun!!!

Click here to “Meet the Staff”.