What started off as an after school program turned into something much bigger than expected. As a child, I failed to imagine the impact that Camp Swift would have in my adult life. Since I was eight, Swift Youth Foundation embedded in me the ability to learn to love myself and others, understand the concept of a goal, and most importantly, I learned that if I worked hard enough I could accomplish anything that I set my mind to.
I was born and raised in Phoenix. At the age of 12, my family and I moved to Texas. The hardest part about moving was knowing that I would no longer be as involved as I previously was with Swift. At that time, I had been part of the after school program for four years and I had the opportunity to go to Camp for three sessions as a camper.
When I was a camper all I could think about was growing up, so I could be a counselor. Luckily I was able to do so by keeping in touch with Swift’s Executive Director. When I was old enough to be a counselor, I flew out to Phoenix to finally do what I had been waiting for so long.
Camp as a counselor was even better than I imagined because it was now up to my co-counselors and I to make sure that the kids had an unforgettable session at camp. What made it even more special was seeing my counselors (from when I was a camper) again as support staff. Being a counselor is a rewarding challenge. Having to create activities, or making up bedtime stories could be a challenge on its own, but the rewarding part of it was seeing my campers grow and experience things that they would never have the chance to experience just like I did when I was young if it wasn’t for Camp Swift.
After being a counselor for three summers I finally graduated High School and was able to become a support staff. As a support staff I was amazed to continue to work with people that were once my counselors, but also have some of my campers come back to Swift and make the transition to counselors. The fact that so many of us keep coming back to camp demonstrates how important Swift is and the impact it has had in our lives. Camp Swift is a home away from home, a place where people from all sorts of backgrounds come together to make a change in a child’s life.
My name is Ubania, I am now twenty one years old. I could have never imagined that this camp that I enrolled in as child could have such an influence into shaping me into the woman I am today; a young woman mature beyond my years, my ability to take charge in troublesome situations, and not be afraid to speak my mind. To that I have Camp Swift to thank for as it has allowed me to gain all of these qualities during my experiences while there. The confidence that I built in myself is in great part the reason why I enlisted in the Army at the age of 17, and overcome any obstacles that have ever come my way. Anyone who knows me knows how important Swift is in my life. I do not think people truly understand what goes on at Camp Swift until they experience it for themselves.
Ubania Villalpando is a dedicated Support Staff. She graduated high school in 2013 and currently serves in the United States Army.
Learn more about Swift Youth Foundation Overnight Camp, Teen Leadership, and After School Programs at swiftyouthfoundation.org/programs! Visit/donate swiftyouthfoundation.org/donate to see how your donations directly impact our mission.
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