The foundation for uCamps was established in 2000, when Dr. Garo Mirigian, Principal at Centerville Jr. High School in Fremont, California, took a risk by hiring recent college graduate Doug "Bald E" Cembellin to take over the drama program at his school.
In 2001, "Joe White and the Seven Lizards", a 20 min. one-act play with a cast of 17, was performed as the result of a newly formed after school program.
In summer 2003, the Centerville Jr. High School gym played host to the first uCamps, under the name “Summer Drama Camp” (SDC), serving 55 students.
In 2004, with construction scheduled for the Centerville gym, SDC was left without a facility. While that door shut, another was open as YMCA Camp Loma Mar, in the Santa Cruz Mountains, became available for one week due to a last minute cancellation. Many of Bald E's friends from the art, music, film, and theatre community came together to staff the first overnight camp, attended by 150 campers. Ironically, Loma Mar is the same camp attended by Bald E in 1986 as a 6th grader and again in 1990 as a junior in high school when he returned as a counselor.
In 2005, more than 200 campers had registered for SDC by May 1st, selling out the program! The decision was made to open a second camp just down the street at YMCA Camp Jones Gulch, serving an additional 60 campers.
For 2006, SDC was offered a second week of facility use at Loma Mar, creating the opportunity for three sessions of camp, including a two-week session.
In 2007, SDC expanded their programming to include Camp Sempervirens, near Big Basin State Park.
2008 was a big year for SDC. The “Rock Star Program” was introduced, supporting campers and staff in bettering themselves and the world. The FAME Camp premiered, offering campers a more in depth artistic training. 2008 also marked the first year of the Leaders in Training (LIT) program, graduating 18 high school students, many of whom have gone on to work as camp staff. SDC also offered the first ever Winter Camp, serving 55 campers.
In 2009, SDC changed its name to uCamps, launched a whole new series of Outdoor Adventure Camps, and moved the Original SDC Camps from Loma Mar to a wonderful new facility, Camp MayMac.
In 2010, Bald E was accepted into the University of Southern California's prestigious graduate film school, which gave rise to the first ever SoCal Camp! We also offered a family camp from 2010-2012, and those who attended LOVED IT!!
Thanks to our very talented Film Workshop Leader, Darvius, our 2010 Winter Campers created their own "It Gets Better" video to submit the It Gets Better Organization! Check out ItGetsBetter.org and see others from all around the world sharing their stories!
In 2011, Bald E here directed a USC-funded documentary called 'Cyberbullied.' As part of the documentary, uCamps hosted a 2 day, 1 night anti-bullying awareness retreat at Camp Sempervirens.
In 2013, to mark the 10 year anniversary of uCamps, Bald E and the film crew remade a camp favorite from 2005--”THRILLER!” Everyone got involved, and many campers were seen walking around camp in realistic zombie garb courtesy of other campers’ makeup expertise! Check out the 2005 version and the 2013 version.
In 2014, uCamps’ launched both its Spring Break program as well as ‘Creating Campus Culture’, a series of weekend retreats for middle and high schoolers during the fall and spring.
In 2016, Film, acting, and leadership majors attended a Q&A with Aaron Covington, writer of the 2015 film ‘Creed’, starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone (who won the Golden Globe for best supporting actor). Covington is not only a successful film writer, but a former uCamps film staff member, known to campers as “Stonewall Blackheart”. During the Q&A, camp director Doug “Bald-E” Cembellin interviewed Aaron, asking questions about his time at USC studying film, his creative process, and the steps he took to achieve such success with his script. Covington explained that the most important thing someone in the film industry can do is continue creating and putting their work out there. After the interview, campers had the opportunity to ask Covington their questions. The following morning, Aaron met with the film and acting students separately to continue the discussion about the artistic process, and to offer advice and constructive criticism on their current projects. With his help, two uCamper original scripts will come to life this session!
In 2018, uCamps hosted our first Summer Camps at Camp Jack Hazard in Dardanelle, CA. It was a great hit, and we look forward to collaborating with them for our future Summer Camps!
Each year uCamps evolves and grows, but several things remain constant:
great campers, great staff, great art, and GREAT FUN!!!