Since its inception, Troy Camp, one of the largest student-run philanthropy organizations at USC, has provided over 11,000 students from Los Angeles Unified School District schools with week-long summer camps in the San Bernardino Mountains. By fostering meaningful relationships among the young students and USC student counselors, Troy Camp lends itself to be a memorable experience. This year, Troy Camp celebrates its 70th anniversary.
At the camp, students participate in an assortment of activities including archery, swimming, arts and science. According to director of camper recruitment Alex Chen, the camp is about more than just creating a fun environment for the students. It’s about impacting the students’ lives.
“Troy Camp engages in educational, extracurricular and leadership programs to foster personal growth and instill the value of learning, with the goal to build long-term mentorship relationships between students at USC and students in the community around us,” Chen said in an email to the Daily Trojan. “Troy Camp is unique in that the organization follows its campers from the time they enter camp in elementary school through high school graduation.”
Troy Camp was founded in 1948 by alumnus Otis Healy when he and fellow USC students took a group of underprivileged kids from South Los Angeles to Jenks Lake for a week camping trip. Since that trip, Troy Camp has welcomed more students and expanded its programs.
Throughout the year, camp counselors and students meet monthly for events and activities. In past years, they have gone to Disneyland, the Los Angeles Zoo and several museums. These excursions give USC students the opportunities to closely mentor the kids and encourage them to pursue higher education. For co-executive director Lilian Aluri, the mentorship component distinguishes Troy Camp from other student-run philanthropies.
“Mentorship is at the core of every program we do,” Aluri said. “So with our goal as long-term mentorship, when we’re thinking about the programs we do, why we do them, why we do specific workshops, it’s all about how this can further the mentorship relationships. That honestly becomes a learning experience not just for the mentee but also for the mentor and a growth experience for them.”
Troy Camp also runs after-school programs every week at local elementary schools in the South Los Angeles area. The Student Mentoring and After School Help programs help students develop study skills to better understand concepts they may be struggling with at school. Specialized programming seeks to spark student interest in extracurricular activities like music and creative writing.
Troy Camp adviser Celso Delgado Jr., a USC assistant professor of occupational therapy, emphasizes the programs’ consistency and dedication to the students as keys to their success.
“It’s the energy, the commitment and the motivation from the students,” Delgado said. “It wasn’t like a volunteer program where we each did something once a semester or twice a semester. We truly put in the work and truly mentored these kids … we had consistent programming for the kids.”
Troy Camp is open to students from elementary, middle and high schools and has specialized initiatives for students at each level. The middle school-oriented program, Leaders in Training, meets every other week to prepare students for high school, instill good study habits and develop leadership skills. The program intended for high schoolers, TC Leads, provides weekly SAT and ACT preparation, one-on-one tutoring and biweekly workshops.
Aluri said that Troy Camp’s 70th anniversary is an important time to reflect on the impact the program has had on the USC community.
“I think it’s a really great time to look at what USC students are doing to engage with the community in a positive way and to really break out of the bubble of USC,” Aluri said. “And it becomes a really enriching experience, not just for the students, again, but for the counselors as well.”