Rising Against Disabilities (RAD) Camp pairs people born with physical and mental disabilities with volunteers for a week of activities in early July. It is located at the Irvine Outdoor Education Center in the city of Orange.
Loyola students join hundreds of volunteers from other schools as well as adults in being “buddies” with campers. Loyola students also volunteer at RAD Jr., a shorter camp that takes place in late July specifically for campers between the ages of 4 and 17.
Volunteering at camp takes commitment and responsibility, according to senior Will Friedman. Friedman has volunteered at RAD Camp and Rad Jr. for two years.
Volunteers at the camps guide the campers and help them get the most of of their experience by interacting with their assigned buddy and participating in athletic and art activities.
Friedman said, “We were assigned a buddy who has a developmental disability, and we were given the responsibility of guiding them through camp, which includes making sure he has his medications on time or making sure he goes to sleep fine.”
Friedman said that the hard work and dedication at RAD Camp is rewarding.
“After camp I realized how life-changing it really was. I created a bond with my buddy who allowed me to become aware of how fortunate we all are,” Friedman said.
Assistant Community Service Director Angela Moran said, “The students work with a population that is challenged and use this experience towards their community service hours. However, we have found that it is such a great experience that our students come back and want to go back whether they need their hours or not.”
Senior Brayden Utley volunteered for his first time at RAD Camp during the week of July 4th. His brother was part of the original RAD Camp volunteers from Loyola.
“I loved just hanging out with my buddy. It is too hard to put into words how awesome RAD Camp is and how much I enjoy it,” Utley said.
This past summer, the varsity football team spent a day helping at RAD Camp. After weight training, the team loaded into buses and made their way to Orange County. There, they divided into groups and ran different activities. Led by head coach Rick Pedroarias ‘84, the team participated in a marathon where people donated money for every lap.
“All our guys jumped in and ran laps with the campers. We were trying to help raise money, but we’re more focused on supporting the campers,” Pedroarias said.
In addition to helping with the marathon, the team was able to experience a different type of community service.
“They all had a really good experience being part of something that’s bigger than them. They had to look outside of themselves and their own interests to help others,” Pedroarias said. “The campers had a great time with the football team, asking for autographs, pictures and hugs.”
Junior running back Hunter Ballard said, “I had a great time at RAD Camp, and it felt good to give back to the community. I talked and listened to many of the campers and was amazed by how happy they all are.”