Summer Camp 2016 Recap

This summer’s Camp Laurel program was an absolute whirlwind of fun, new activities, and so many memories! Thanks to our amazing volunteers and donors, our campers were able to spend a week surrounded by a supportive community of their peers where they got to participate in engaging activities like swimming, challenge courses, native arts, high ropes, archery, and so much more!

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As always, the goal of Camp Laurel is to build our campers’ sense of self-esteem and self-worth by encouraging them to try new activities, work outside of their comfort zones, and develop new skill sets. In addition to many traditional camp activities, Camp Laurel introduced new and unique programming this summer focused on helping our campers develop skills that can benefit their everyday lives. Our older campers were treated to a brand new cooking program courtesy of our guest staff “Thunder” from Jameson Ranch Camp. This workshop not only helped them create culinary wonders for the entire camp community (like Nopales and handmade granola bars), but it also showed them how they can incorporate healthy eating habits using ingredients they can find in their own neighborhoods into their everyday meals.

An exciting new mountain biking program pushed campers of all ages to expand their perceived capacities and rise to the challenge of this invigorating outdoor sport. It also showed our campers a whole new way to explore the beauty of nature and get a killer workout to boot! Campers were further encouraged to expand their love of nature through more new outdoor activities such as geocaching, and trenting (another Jameson Ranch Camp guest program). Geocaching introduced many campers to the different ways they can navigate through nature and trenting gave a whole new meaning to outdoor adventures!

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This summer we also added in some very special elements for our teen campers, including an overnight campout adventure, complete with a long hiking in, tent camping, and stories around the campfire! The teens were encouraged to work as a team to make the program a success, as together they had to hike up all their supplies, build their campsite, and work as a community throughout the evening. In addition to spending a fun evening under the stars, the teen overnight campout also gave this group a chance to bond with other youth encountering the same stigma and challenges as themselves, and helped lay the foundation for a positive peer support system that they can turn to both inside of camp and throughout the year.

The stories they brought back, memories they made, and teamwork they developed just goes to show that s’mores and sleeping under the stars is the perfect way to end the summer!


Although a lot of new programs were added this summer, Camp Laurel still kept our favorite traditions going! Back by popular demand, our campers were treated to Camp Laurel’s favorite evening program- the Great Noodie Bird Hunt! The counselor team also put on one of the best all-camp dances in recent memory, complete with photo booth, costumes, and all the best dance tunes that DJ Kidney Bean could find!

Whether it was through new activities or class camp favorites, campers of all ages were given the unique opportuntiy to try new experiences, rise beyond their perceived capacities, and develop new life skills such as teamwork, leadership, and communication through the programs presented at Camp Laurel.

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Even with all the fun activities that camp offers, we’ve heard time and again from youth that have graduated our programs that Camp Laurel has provided them with so much more than just a fun time. Camp Laurel is a place where they learn to believe in themselves, where they are taught to work with their peers towards common objectives, and where they get to expand their abilities. Its a safe place they can return to year after year where they are not judged for what they’re dealing with, but supported for who they are.

This summer we saw yet another group of amazing young adults embrace these ideals through Camp Laurel’s Counselor-In-Training program. This leadership development program helped these campers use the skills they’ve learned at Camp Laurel to support other youth in the program by taking on leadership roles and responsibilities. Over the course of camp, the teens in this program developed crucial life skills (active listening, communication, problem solving, etc) through leadership workshops and hands-on experience leading programs and supporting the younger campers. This group set the bar even higher for CITs following in their footsteps, with the incredible amount of care, creativity, and great leadership potential they showed every day of the program! What an amazing team!

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This summer was without a doubt one of the most fun Camp Laurel programs in recent memory and makes us even more excited to get back to camp with our Family Camp program early next year! We can’t wait to see you all there!!!

Margot AndersonSummer Camp 2016 Recap
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Camp Laurel changed my life

My name is Grissel Granados and I was a camper with Camp Laurel from the age of 7 to about 17, actually I was there at the very first Camp Laurel ever! Camp Laurel was a family tradition as well, once my little sister was old enough she went to Summer Camp every year with me; and in the winter my mom, my sister, and I all went to Camp Laurel’s Family Camp.
As a person who was born with HIV, Camp Laurel was instrumental to my growing up without stigma and allowing me to just be a kid. While my family made me feel loved and told me I could do whatever I set my mind to, regardless of my HIV status, Camp Laurel was a place where I could actually see it for myself. At camp I could push myself to try new things that were beyond my imagination (particularly growing up as a poor person of color), such as horseback riding, or kayaking…it is where I learned how to swim, and where I challenged my fear of heights with the support of my camp friends and counselors.

Camp Laurel reminded me that I wasn’t alone…

I felt the support of my camp family through the hard times I faced outside of camp as well. When I was 10 I was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo chemo therapy. I remember one camp counselor shaved his head in solidarity when I had to cut off my hair. I also remember having camp friends visit me in the hospital. Camp Laurel reminded me that I wasn’t alone and it was my safe haven in between chemo sessions.
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My friendships with the kids I met through The Laurel Foundation spanned beyond the few days a year we got to spend together. We kept in touch through out the year writing letters to each other. The importance of these friendships  proved to be much more valuable as we grew up and started to face the real world as teens and young adults growing up with HIV..After camp, I went off to UC Santa Barbara for college and proceeded to become a social worker in the HIV field working with Adolescents and Young Adults who are living with or at-risk for acquiring HIV. Despite my professional experience in the field of HIV/AIDS, I found that without the friends I met through Camp Laurel in my life, I started to feel extremely isolated. I started to think I was the only person born with HIV, even though intellectually I knew I wasn’t.



I took it upon myself to re-connect with the community I lost through the process of creating a documentary on the first generation of people born with HIV in the 80s and 90s. I interviewed 4 young adults, one of them being my best friend from Camp Laurel, Allie. There were many commonalities in our story, but the most striking was this sense of isolation. From those who did not get the opportunity to go to camp, there was a almost sense of injustice and envy that they missed out on such a critical source of support that only a few of us had.

I’ve done about a dozen screenings a cross the country since September of last year when I premiered the film and the question that comes up 100% of the time is about camp, because Allie mentions how important it was for her. This clip is only about 30 seconds and yet every single time it is something that touches audiences. People want to know where there are camps, how they can connect kids they know to camp, how they can support The Laurel Foundation’s mission. At every screening I get asked how we recreate something like this for those of us who are in our late 20s and early 30s now, and still very much in need of the experiences that The Laurel Foundation provides.

I am the person I am today because I went to Camp Laurel

.As a 29 year old woman today I continue to reap the benefits of having gone to Camp Laurel during my childhood. I am in touch with camp friends through Facebook, I meet up with them for lunch from time to time. I see pictures of their weddings and their kids and I feel re-connected to my own community… I continue to see examples of how we can do anything we set our minds to despite our HIV status. Every few years I pull out my box of Camp Laurel mementos and reminisce. As I try new experiences now, I always have some example of how I have tried something similar before at camp to give me courage and push my boundaries. I am the person I am today and I continue to try new things because I went to Camp Laurel.



– Grissel Granados

Margot AndersonCamp Laurel changed my life
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If you’re looking for a career where you will get to make a direct impact on the lives of at-risk children and youth, then consider joining The Laurel Foundation’s team! The Laurel Foundation’s staff works alongside our donors and volunteers to further our nonprofit’s mission of empowering and supporting children, youth, and families affected by HIV/AIDS. As a member of The Laurel Foundation’s team, you will be able to engage in fulfilling work that makes an tangible difference in the lives of some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

Nonprofit Management Intern   

Time commitment:

One semester minimum, 15 hrs per week (Monday-Friday)

Position Description:

The Nonprofit Management Intern will support The Laurel Foundation’s mission of empowering children, youth and families affected by HIV/AIDS by building community networks, participating in outreach events, researching new sources of funding, soliciting in-kind donations, and supporting organizational events. Depending on your interests and skills, you may also have the opportunity to participate in other aspects of nonprofit work such as social media communications, grant writing, and event planning.


  • Be able to clearly communicate the mission, programs, and successes of The Laurel Foundation
  • Research new sources of funding that align with The Laurel Foundation’s mission and vision
  • Complete all tasks in a timely manner
  • Represent The Laurel Foundation at outreach and community events
  • Update and develop new outreach materials
  • Convey The Laurel Foundation’s mission across various social media platforms
  • Assist in fund raising campaigns and events


  • Previous professional, volunteer, or classroom experience with nonprofits (preferred)
  • Strong attention to detail and time management skills
  • Exceptional organizational, communication, and writing skills
  • Able to take constructive criticism and confidence in expressing ideas
  • Basic social media knowledge and graphic design skills
  • Self-motivated and able to work with minimal supervision
  • Ability to plan, organize, and effectively present ideas to a group
  • Proficiency with Microsoft Office programs and basic office equipment
  • Creativity and a great sense of humor


  • Gain insight into nonprofit management and structure
  • Network with local businesses and nonprofit professionals
  • Work with diverse populations in cross-cultural or multicultural settings
  • Build professional resume with tangible outcomes
  • Learn or expand current knowledge of the fundamentals of fundraising

Application Instructions:

Send resume and Nonprofit Management Intern Application to our Director of Volunteer, Lauren Franklin, at lfranklin@laurel-foundation.org

Margot AndersonCareers
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January Donor Spotlight – Angel Flight West!

Angel Flight West has been a wonderful support to The Laurel Foundation for many years, providing free flights to Camp Laurel for our at-risk campers!

Angel Flight West is a non-profit organization of volunteer private pilots who provide free air transportation for families affected by life-threatening illnesses. Angel Flight West’s volunteer pilots donate their time, aircraft, and fuel costs to provide transportation to and from Camp Laurel for campers that otherwise would not be able to participate. In the past two years alone, Angel Flight West has provided 160 flights to the children, youth and families affected by HIV/AIDS served by The Laurel Foundation!


We cannot be more grateful for our partnership with Angel Flight West! Its only thanks to the dedication of their staff and amazing volunteer pilots that many of our families are able to participate in our Camp Laurel programs and able to access the vital educational and support services that camp provides.

Ashley Mia

See all of the great work Angel Flight West does for children and individuals affected by life threatening illnesses by visiting their website, www.angelflightwest.org or following them on Facebook. What an amazing organization!

Margot AndersonJanuary Donor Spotlight – Angel Flight West!
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World AIDS Day is Giving Tuesday!


#GivingTuesday is here once again and this year it falls directly on World AIDS Day!

Every year The Laurel Foundation uses Worlds AIDS Day to bring awareness to the ongoing fight against HIV and AIDS, and to support  the everyday challenges children, youth and families face due to living with this disease. This year World AIDS Day provides an opportunity for our volunteers, supporters and community to directly support the programs The Laurel Foundation provides for families affected by HIV and AIDS by pledging to become Sustaining Donors in honor of #GivingTuesday.

Last year for #GivingTuesday, over 20 individuals decided to support our nonprofit by becoming sustaining donors. Through their support, we were able to raise over $4,200 for The Laurel Foundation’s 2015 programs! This year we hope to double the amount of sustaining donors that pledge their support to the children and families we serve.


As a sustaining donor, YOU choose your giving level, and your contribution is automatically deducted each month from your credit card or bank account. By choosing a contribution amount that YOU feel comfortable with, you will help to change the lives of HUNDREDS of children, youth and families affected by HIV and AIDS. Even $10 a month,  can make an incredible impact on the at-risk youth we serve.

What your dollars do!

So this World AIDS Day – December 1, join The Laurel Foundation in supporting children, youth and families affected by HIV and AIDS in honor of World AIDS Day and #GivingTuesday by becoming a sustaining donor. Visit our donations page to set up a giving plan that works with YOUR life.

1794710_10152669200389900_1371016510535254468_nOur hope is that you will spread the word through social media and email everyone you know to help us reach our goal.  PLEASE HELP US – SERVE THE KIDS – THIS #WORLDAIDSDAY – #GIVINGTUESDAY!


Margot AndersonWorld AIDS Day is Giving Tuesday!
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November Spotlight- ScrollUp Consulting

ScrollUp Consulting has completely changed the face of The Laurel Foundation by creating a brand new website for our nonprofit! ScrollUp Consulting made designing a new site to better serve our clients and donors seem like a breeze, and created a beautiful new platform for us in no time at all.

Not only did ScrollUp Consulting create a simplified and modernized site that works across multiple devices, they also made sure that our website was secure, fast, and most of all, accessible. Its obvious to see why their company is considered a top contender in the web development, computer support, and cloud integration field!

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The Laurel Foundation was connected to ScrollUp Consulting through its amazing founder, Sellers Stough. Sellers, aka Celery, has been donating his time at Camp Laurel since 2001 as a camp counselor. Sellers has volunteered in many different roles within our programs and has been a wonderful advocate for our nonprofit within the community. We could not ask for a more dedicated, passionate, and supportive volunteer!

Thank you Sellers for all that you have done for The Laurel Foundation through your work as a volunteer and through your professional skill sets as a web designer. You have helped make such a huge impact on the children, youth and families The Laurel Foundation serves throughout the years!


See all of the great work Sellers Stough and ScrollUp Consulting does by visiting their website, scrollupconsulting.com or adding them on Facebook. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them for all your web development and computer support needs- we could not give them a higher recommendation!!!

Margot AndersonNovember Spotlight- ScrollUp Consulting
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Why I’m A Camp Laurel Counselor

Working as a camp counselor has made me who I am today. Through volunteering at programs like Camp Laurel, I have gained confidence, found self-acceptance, and secured a happiness deep within myself that I would not have found otherwise. Although everyone has their own journey that brings them to camp, I wanted to share my personal story with you here.

It was on a dark and stormy day when I stumbled across Camp Laurel. Ok, so maybe not dark and stormy, but it was a memorable day in 2014 for sure! I was sittin’ on my fencepost, chewin my bubble gum (chew, chew, chew chew), playin with my yo yo (wee-oo wee-oh), when along came Caaaaaammmp Laurel. (Ah, couldn’t resist adding in a camp song!) Having a family member who passed away from AIDS, I felt an immediate personal connection to the non-profit and wanted more than anything to get involved.

I made it my mission as a newly adopted member of the Camp Laurel family to peal bananas, raise the roof, pop the corn, mash potatoes, and put a smile on all of my campers faces. I wanted to help them forget whatever troubles they may be grappling with, even if just for a while. I gave these kids a friend, someone judgement free who too wasted all of mom’s money on endless amounts of bazooka zooka bubble gum. But more importantly, I gave these kids someone who cared about them, because I know from personal experience how important having that caring person in your life can be.


For the majority of my young adult life my sexuality was a secret weighing heavily on my heart. Fear of losing friends, fear of disappointing parents, and fear of society were major factors that kept me from accepting this part of myself. With time this secret broke my spirits and the shame I felt for being gay made me incredibly unhappy.

Whenever I was upset growing up my mom would say “Laugh. It makes you feel good. And if you can make someone else laugh, that makes you feel even better. Go make someone laugh today.” It only took me what, 18 years? but I’d finally decided to heed her advice. Make someone laugh…

I thought back to the last time I had tons of fun and made some awesome folks laugh and immediately thought of camp.

About eight-some odd years ago I went to camp as a camper and the memories that experience gave me are some of the happiest memories I have to this day. At camp I got to develop my communication skills with others. I got to try new things I’d never done before like canoeing, horse-back riding, and hiking across large expanses of uneven terrain carrying half my body weight in a backpack on my back (fun stuff, really, that last one in particular). But what I enjoyed most about my experience as a camper was that I was able to make life-long friends, have fun, and let my worries fly out the window.

Seriously, my biggest worry as a camper was the bug issue. I hated bugs then, and I’m not PARTICULARLY fond of them now. But how awesome is it that I can say with complete honesty that THAT was my biggest worry!

So several years ago I decided to go back to camp, only this time I was going back as a counselor. Fortunately for me, my experiences as a counselor did not disappoint.


Volunteering at programs like Camp Laurel not only gave me a chance to get involved, but also offered me a judgement free environment where I could once again forget about the worries in my own life and just make a child laugh. In time I found myself tapping into these parts of myself that had been dormant for so long, waiting to break free. Acting silly, dressing in crazy costumes, singing and dancing to crazy songs; I felt happy and it felt amazing. The gratification I received over the years in return for all the silliness and hard work was far more than I’d expected. There’s no greater feeling in the world than watching a kid smile, and thinking “wow, I played a part in that.”


As someone who felt different and isolated in my younger years, I found it fascinating coming back as a counselor  to see what diverse group camp brings together! The kids and many of my fellow counselors were a unique and awesome bunch from all walks across the globe, but at camp none of our differences mattered. What mattered at the end of the day wasn’t what made you different, it was what brought you together.

I made life long friends as a counselor, and without even realizing it, BOOM! (chicka boom), I’d grown into a more confident individual.

I’ve reached a place now where I’ve found confidence, self-acceptance, and happiness deep within myself and I know I couldn’t have done it without the self-esteem and confidence boost working as a camp counselor has given me. Laughter healed me just like my mom said it would and now, 5 years later, I am still bo diddly boppin’ back to my pizza shop and volunteering at summer camps across California, healing others, one laugh at a time.

-Dimples (aka Alishia)


Margot AndersonWhy I’m A Camp Laurel Counselor
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19th Annual Golf Tournament

The Laurel Foundation’s 19th Annual Golf Tournament will be held on November 2, 2015 at the prestigious MountainGate Country Club.  The day is filled with 18 holes of golf, skill testing golf contests (putting, longest drive, etc.) with great prizes, and a fully catered after party and awards show that will include a DJ, hosted bar, and more!

Join us as a Corporate Sponsor or individual player and help us to send over 500 children, youth and families to The Laurel Foundation’s programs in 2016.



Margot Anderson19th Annual Golf Tournament
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October Donor Spotlight- Craig’s Crew

Craig’s Crew has been supporting The Laurel Foundation and the families we serve for years, donating meals for day events, the annual Holiday Party, volunteer training weekends, and so much more! Craig and his team truly have a heart for serving the kids and never hesitate to support our families in any way they can. Whether its grilling up hamburgers for 100 individuals at our Holiday Party or connecting us to resources within the community, Craig’s Crew is always willing to help out and step up.

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Craig’s Crew is not just a strong supporter of The Laurel Foundation, they are also a strong advocate for many other service organizations in the Los Angeles community:

We put a high priority on giving back to our community, to those in need, and to mentoring others to become successful; regardless of their calling or situation.

Thank you Craig for all that you do for The Laurel Foundation and the many other nonprofits and service agencies you support! We so appreciate all that you do for our organization and can’t emphasize what an impact you’ve made on the children, youth and families we serve! We love you Craig’s Crew! See more of the great work Craig Tolliver and his company does by visiting their website, www.craigscrew.com.

Margot AndersonOctober Donor Spotlight- Craig’s Crew
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Confessions of a New Counselor

Camp Laurel was such an amazing and unforgettable experience. I first stumbled upon the Laurel Foundation through an email from my college. I read the short synopsis of what they do for children affected by HIV/AIDS and when I looked more into it, I found the camp counselor position to be very interesting and something I knew I would love to do.

ta9mrConfessions of a New Counselor
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