This week we’ve got a new video and story from our own backyard in Los Angeles. Welcome to Camp Ubuntu!
It may feel like the familiar summer camp from your childhood — there’s hiking, a ropes course, crafts and campfires (with s’mores, of course!), but for most of the kids, this camp is much more than a fun trip. It’s their very first time in nature. An escape from the violence that still plagues South LA. And an opportunity to express themselves through music, art, and writing.
These campers come from some of LA’s most dangerous areas. Watts, where DeAndre grew up, is the 15th most violent of LA’s 272 neighborhoods. He navigated extreme violence and the power of gangs every day while simply walking to school. Many kids like DeAndre are at risk, and their options become more and more limited as they grow up.
The 3-day Camp Ubuntu retreats bring kids to The Angeles National Forest for an experience that merges fun and healing, and encourages kids to connect with each other. The counselors are also from these communities, and can speak to students from personal experience; many were formerly incarcerated and hope to prevent more young kids from ending up on that path.
Harold Robinson Foundation, which runs the camp, believes the program’s impact will be long term. It’s about building a feeling of safety and hope that campers can bring back home to LA, to become the generation that changes their communities for the better.
And since 2009, it’s been working. Hundreds of students like DeAndre have been transformed by Camp Ubuntu, with some bringing anti-violence advocacy back to their schools and neighborhoods.
At Living on One we believe strongly in the strength of community. And that’s what this camp is all about. The name is rooted in the South African philosophy of “Ubuntu,” which means that we rise and fall together as a community. The literal translation is, “I am, because we are” and it represents the respect, love, kindness, and connectedness we believe should exist between all people. Through Ubuntu, young people learn that we must rely on and support each other to ensure success as an individual, as a family, and as a community.
- Read: Can the Children of Watts Change their Troubled Hood? [LA Weekly]
- See: Handwritten Cards from Campers [Camp Ubuntu]
- Read: South LA Looks to End Cycle of Violence By Addressing Trauma [California Health Report]
- Give: Support Camp Ubuntu’s incredible work