Knock Around Camp

Group of college-aged students dressed up as super heroesThe Camp on Campus

Every summer for the past 30 years, UC San Diego has welcomed school-aged children to campus for an experience like no other: Knock Around Camp. There, the university grounds become a playground for kids aged five through 16, where they experience art, nature, science and of course, summer fun. From rock climbing at Canyonview to the tide pools at Scripps, kids get a taste of Triton excitement, while UC San Diego students serve as positive role models as camp counselors.

Hosted by UC San Diego Recreation, Knock Around Camp began informally with a half-day program in 1991—10 kids and one counselor. Bringing 200 kids to campus each week at its most recent peak, Knock Around has come to include specialty camps such as beach camp, leadership camp for high schoolers and many different sports camps. Yet even as it grew, the camp remained small at heart.

Katie Shaw-Bullock (A.K.A. Gidget, her counselor codename) has been director of Knock Around Camp since 2012: “These kids went to different schools, grew up in different neighborhoods,” she says, “but they knew every summer they would come together here. Some of our counselors were once campers themselves too and felt so strongly about the program and their experience that they wanted to be here when they ‘grew up.’”

One such camper-turned-counselor was Liam Barrett ’19 (A.K.A. Dobby), who spent every summer at Knock Around since age five. “The counselors were my role models and the superheroes of my life,” he says. “Having experienced how special Knock Around and the counselors can be for a kid, it was absolutely something I wanted to be a part of as a UCSD student.”

For many other Tritons, being a counselor adds another dimension to their education and can even be a life-changing experience. This was the case for Chad Butler ’97, drummer for alternative rock band SWITCHFOOT: “Knock Around gave me an appreciation for the influence you can have on kids. I saw them become more confident—even just scoring a goal on a soccer field, those things give kids courage and self-esteem,” he says. “That experience shaped my appreciation for investing in the lives of children and led us as a band to support youth charities here in San Diego.”


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