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Summer Camp Campaign: Teen of few words gets a chance to open up

Miguelcloid Reniva is a boy of few words.

He speaks only when spoken to, and answers in as few words as possible. But the 13-year-old who dreams of someday becoming a lawyer carries self-awareness beyond his years.

“I’m very shy,” said Miguelcloid, a skinny boy with glasses, when asked to describe himself.

The Wednesday afternoon before Miguelcloid heads off to camp for the first time, he cleans without fuss the bedroom he shares with his cousins, 4 and 6, who mark a stark contrast as they yell in the background and make loud thumping noises.

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Miguelcloid has lived with his aunt, uncle and two cousins in Koreatown for almost a year. Before that, his grandparents and mother took care of him.

“My kids are looking at him as their big brother. And he really is a good example to my kids,” said his aunt, Regina Ramirez.

In a room with Angry Birds stickers decorating his walls and a plastic storage bin beneath his cousins’ bunk bed packed full of movies and games, no one would guess that Miguelcloid, who gets good grades in school and loves video games and sports, grew up without a father and was cared for by a schizophrenic mother.

Under the supervision of his grandparents, Miguelcloid’s mother was able to raise him. But last year, his grandparents decided to move back to the Philippines to retire and took his mother with them.

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Miguelcloid decided to stay behind, but was devastated nonetheless. His grades dropped and he withdrew further into silence.

To bring him out of his shell, Ramirez decided to enroll him in swim classes held at the local YMCA.

“He never had any experience or any extra activities outside of school,” Ramirez said. “When we started with YMCA, I noticed he started to open up more.”

“It showed me how much potential I have,” said Miguelcloid, who ended up being one of the faster swimmers in his class.

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Now he’s attending the YMCA’s Camp Whittle near Big Bear for a week. In addition to the canoeing and campfires, Miguelcloid was excited about the opportunity to break away from his daily routine.

Although he said he’s had a few problems in life, they’re nothing he can’t overcome.

“Because every problem,” Miguelcloid said, quoting one of his video games, “has a solution.”

Through the generosity of Times readers and a match by the McCormick Foundation, nearly $1.3 million was granted to local camp programs this year as a result of the Los Angeles Times Summer Camp Campaign.

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The Summer Camp Campaign, part of the Los Angeles Times Family Fund, a McCormick Foundation Fund, raises contributions to support programs that provide thousands of Southern California’s at-risk children ages 7 to 17 with enriching, educational and fun camp experiences.

Donations are tax-deductible as permitted by law and matched at 50 cents on the dollar. Donor information is not traded or published without permission. Donate online at latimes.com/donate or by calling (800) 518-3975. All gifts will receive a written acknowledgment.

melissa.leu@latimes.com


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