Volunteer with UCLA UniCamp

Be part of UCLA’s official student charity, a student tradition since 1934, and apply to volunteer as a UCLA UniCamp counselor for our 2021 camp season! Mentor and inspire kids from underserved communities and give back for one week this summer, all while making new friends throughout the school year and having fun!

Applications accepted on a rolling basis throughout Winter Quarter but applications submitted earlier are given priority

Role Description

Volunteers have the most important role at camp: they work directly with the campers in small ratios to create a magical experience. You will be sorted into a session and will train with your co-counselor(s) through winter and spring quarters to build the mentorship and leadership skills you’ll need to be an amazing counselor. Your responsibilities include:

  • Attending all training meetings and your week of camp for your assigned session (dates listed below). All 2021 trainings will be over Zoom until UCLA has resumed full in-person operations.
  • Building relationships with fellow volunteers to create a supportive camp community
  • Supervising campers, ages 9-14, keeping safety as a top priority and giving them opportunities to grow and have fun
  • Building supportive, mentoring relationships with campers
  • Envisioning, planning, and executing activities for small groups of campers under guidance from your session’s student leadership team
  • If chosen as a Specialist, learning about one activity and leading it at camp for the week. Activities include swimming, climbing, arts & crafts, archery, dance, mountain biking, and more. Training is provided!
  • Identifying and responding empathetically to camper behaviors
  • Meeting a $450 fundraising goal. Support and training is provided!
SessionTraining meetings (Zoom)
Winter Weeks 5-9
Spring Weeks 1-9
Session Dates
First day is pre-session training
1Thursdays 7-8pmJune 18-25
The Village Session*
Wednesdays 7-8pmJuly 11-17
3Thursdays 7-8pmJuly 17-24
Tuesdays 7-8pmJuly 24-31
Tuesdays 7-8pmJuly 31 – August 7
6Tuesdays 7-8pmAugust 7-14

* The Village Session is partnered with The Village Nation. The week of camp empowers Black American youth to achieve their full potential by providing them with guidance from elders, resources for success, and immersing them in African culture. Campers and volunteers from all ethnic backgrounds are welcome.

** AcademiCamp is a session partnered with Horace Mann UCLA Community School. Volunteers will work with faculty and staff from Mann to run a week of camp focused on social and emotional learning.

Requirements to apply:

  • Be a university student, past camper, or past volunteer
  • Pass a criminal history background check and reference check
  • Have a passion for working with kids and being outdoors
  • Ability to communicate in English or Spanish
  • Ability to navigate on dirt or mulch trails. Our campsite is in a national forest and all the roads/trails are unpaved.

Please contact us if you’re unsure if you’re eligible or to discuss accommodations.

Interview Process

Step 2

A leadership team from one of your preferred sessions will reach out to you to schedule a virtual interview or ask for more information

Step 3

If accepted, your session’s leadership team will invite you to the first meeting (Winter Week 5)

UniCamp operates with a continuous interview process after you are initially accepted. Your leadership team will be working with you throughout the training process to make sure you are developing the skills required to be a great camp counselor.


How will COVID-19 affect UniCamp?

It looks very likely that we will be able to run in-person camp in 2021, but conditions can always change. We are committed to providing safe youth development opportunities and we will continue to follow the guidance of public health professionals.

The majority of camp is in small groups and outdoors, even our cabins are open-air with solid barriers between bunks. We always work to prevent the spread of communicable disease at camp and we already have a detailed plan (based on industry guidance and a CDC case study of summer camps operating safely in 2020) to reduce the likelihood of the spread of COVID-19.

It’s important to note that the pandemic and the world’s understanding of it is constantly changing so our plans may change by the summer. If we are not able to run in-person camp, we will convert to a virtual camp like we did in the summer of 2020.

Who is eligible to apply?

To volunteer with UCLA UniCamp, you must be at least 18 years old by the first day of your session. In addition, you must be either a university student or former UniCamp volunteer/camper (former campers must have finished high school by January 1, 2021).

What is the time commitment?

During the school year: roughly 2 hours per week plus some extra time for special events and planning. Events are not held during 10th week or finals week. You will also attend your week of camp during summer.

What if I am unsure of my summer plans?

Don’t worry! It’s early on in the school year and we know you may still be thinking about internships, jobs, or summer school. Internships can often be flexible, especially since this is only a 1-week commitment during the summer.

Do I need experience as a camp counselor?

Nope! We provide all the training needed, based on American Camp Association standards. Depending on the roles you select, you can also learn about lifeguarding, archery, mountain biking, belaying, and more. At camp, you will work in teams others close by if you need help.

Will I have help fundraising?

Yes! During training, you’ll learn how to fundraise effectively and will be given opportunities to participate in group fundraisers.

What if I don’t make the fundraising goal?

The $450 fundraising minimum is an expectation that you fundraise, and is not a participation fee.

The key to fundraising is asking. If you ask a lot of people and receive a lot of small donations but don’t hit your goal, we can often work with you. Last year, for instance, a donor pledged to contribute to volunteers’ fundraising goals for every ask they made, even if it didn’t result in a donation!

Will I be at camp all summer?

Nope! This is a volunteer position for a single week during the summer. There will be opportunities to “float” in other sessions and to apply for a full-season paid staff position at camp if you’d like to be at camp longer than your one week. Info for those roles will be sent out to all volunteers in spring.

Where is camp? Do I need transportation?

UniCamp takes place at our campsite in the San Bernardino National Forest near Big Bear. Click here for photos and 360º views of camp.

As a volunteer, you’ll board a bus to/from camp in Westwood, so just make sure you are able to get to UCLA at the start of your session. Note: these details may change this year due to COVID-19. If we are not able to take a bus we may arrange carpools instead. We know many students don’t have cars, so providing your own transportation to/from camp will still not be a requirement.

What do I do as a volunteer at camp?

You’ll be sorted into one of three roles based on your preference and the session’s availability:

Counselor: you’ll be in charge of a group of 6-10 campers for the week, eating meals, sharing a cabin, and going to activities together. You’ll be their primary supervision and your role will be to keep them safe and support their growth throughout the week.

Specialist: you’ll be in charge of an activity and will get to work with campers from all different cabins throughout the week. Specialists are often “adopted” into a cabin where you’ll sleep and you’ll have a chance to work with the unit’s counselors in getting to know the campers. Activities include swimming, archery, arts & crafts, climbing tower, nature/hiking, mountain biking, drama, dance, and more. Training/certifications will be provided as-needed.

Hybrid: the best of both worlds! Your role will alternate between being a counselor and specialist.

About half-way through training, you’ll “pref” the role you’d prefer (including age group and activities) and everyone will be sorted.

Do I volunteer alone?

Nope! You’ll always have a “co” — a co-counselor or a co-specialist. You’ll “pref” who you’d like to work with (along with the role you prefer) and you’ll be assigned one or more “coze” around half-way through training.

What if I’ve never worked with kids or been camping before?

Don’t worry, plenty of volunteers will learn alongside you during training! All we ask is that you’re open to new experiences.

We sleep in open-air cabins, each with an attached toilet/shower/sink and spend the majority of the day outside. You’ll get a packing list before camp, but the only special supplies you need are a sleeping bag and flashlight.

What if I have more questions?

If you have any further questions, please email us at ccpds@unicamp.org, send us a message on Instagram, or come to an info session.

I still can’t decide if I want to do UniCamp…

Apply anyway! You don’t have to commit to anything until you are offered a volunteer position after your interview. The interview process is a great way to learn more about UniCamp and meet other volunteers to help decide if this is right for you.

Anything else?

If you have any other questions or concerns, please email us at ccpds@unicamp.org, send us a message on Instagram, or come to an info session (dates above!).

We look forward to receiving your application!