Unlike most other kids, 12-year-old Luis Arevalo doesn't have an entire summer of leisure and fun ahead of him. So far, he is experiencing the working world by spending time on the job with his dad, driving back and forth between Orange County and Las Vegas delivering mail.
It's not an ideal vacation. So Luis will appreciate the change of scenery — the Santa Monica Mountains instead of the open road — when he spends two weeks at Camp Mt. Crags and Camp Gilmore, operated in tandem and run by the Salvation Army.
Surrounded by oaks and evergreens in the scenic Malibu Canyon, Luis will have the chance to hike, swim, play games, rock climb and practice archery.
Luis has attended the Salvation Army's afterschool program in Whittier nearly every day after school for five years. There, he performs with the choir and in musical productions such as last winter's "Christmas County Spelling Bee." He also participates in the Adventure Corps, similar to Boy Scouts. The program is devoted to developing interpersonal skills, performing community service, building friendships and engaging in multicultural learning.
At the first of two camp sessions that he'll attend this summer, Luis will earn Adventure Corps emblems by completing specific tasks and activities. At the second, Luis will indulge his love of music with the camp's "Rock and Soul" theme, inspired by the Hard Rock Café.
A couple of years ago, Luis also attended the Salvation Army's Music Camp, where activities included hip-hop and rap classes. According to Robert Davidson, assistant corps officer, music camp teaches not just confidence but also stage presence, something Luis can carry with him for the rest of his life.
At the moment, Luis isn't thinking too hard about future plans. Like many boys his age, Luis loves video games and fantasizes about a career in that field. He says, "They have this thing where you can actually test video games and get paid for it! That's a pretty good job." He also considers the possibility of joining the Marines. His father encourages that goal, noting that the military can help with expenses of college and buying a home.
But for now, Luis is looking forward to two weeks of camp, enjoying friends, sports, music and the life of a 12-year-old boy.
With $1.6 million raised last year by the Los Angeles Times Summer Camp Campaign, approximately 6,500 children will go to camp in Southern California this summer.
The Summer Camp Campaign is part of the Los Angeles Times Family Fund, a McCormick Foundation fund, which matches all donations at 50 cents on the dollar.
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