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TIMES SUMMER CAMP CAMPAIGN

Finding his field of soccer dreams

An Anaheim boy gains confidence and hones his team skills during the week away, discovering a new interest: rugby

September 01, 2008|Nicky Loomis | Times Staff Writer

As an aspiring professional soccer player, William Luna knew spending a week at sports camp would be the best place to hone his skills.

Returning for a second time this summer, William, 10, said he was right about his instincts.

"It's like you change your attitude and it changes how you do stuff," William said of Mt. Crags Sports Camp.

William, who lives in Anaheim with his mother, Esmeralda Alvarez, and his sisters, Joanna and Amy, said the biggest change he noticed was how he acted as a player.

"When you first play soccer, you play like you're scared of the ball," he said.

"When you get home [from camp], you're not scared of the ball anymore."

About 150 children, ages 9 to 13, spend a week at Mt. Crags Sports Camp, run by the Salvation Army.

In the hills of Malibu Canyon, Mt. Crags offers a more modern approach to camping, with cabins equipped with bathrooms and electricity.

Throughout the week, campers choose among a wide variety of traditional sports, including swimming, football and soccer.

There is also a selection of other sports that changes each summer, such as fencing, self-defense and wrestling.

The mission of the camp is to give kids a chance to get exercise and learn how to combine sports with friendship, said camp director Don Mowery.

"The goal is to emphasize sports as a team," Mowery said. "Competition is not the focus."

Though he still hopes to become a soccer player like David Beckham when he grows up, William put his soccer career on hold this summer to learn how to play rugby, a sport he grew to love by the end of the week.

"It's like football and soc- cer at the same time," William said.

Thanks to the $1.7 million raised last year by the Los Angeles Times Summer Camp Campaign, about 8,000 children will go to camp in Southern California this summer.

The Los Angeles Times Family Fund is a fund of the McCormick Foundation, which matches all donations at 50 cents on the dollar.

Donations are tax deductible as permitted by law. Addresses will not be released or published.

For more information, call (800) LA TIMES, Ext. 75771, or e-mail familyfund@latimes .com.

Mail donations using the form below (do not send cash) or donate online now at latimes.com/donate.

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nicole.loomis@latimes.com

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