How your clients refer to you:
The kids call me London, but my official title is the “Head Kid.”
Website: www.campsoulgrow.org, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Ph. (631) 668- 8800
How many years have you been in business in Montauk?
3 years, but we are completing our 4th summer!
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
My inspiration came from personally experiencing how the world can change you and tell you “how to be” and “what to be.” My inspiration came through losing my home, mother, and brother, and knowing that self-love is the key to persevering through life’s hardships. I wanted to create a space that eliminates pressure from children and helps them figure out who they are, that promotes individuality and self-expression, teaches children how to love themselves and appreciate their blessings, and a place that connects them with positive and hopeful influences, inspirations, friendships, and mentors that inspire and support their dreams. I wanted to create an equal platform for children of all backgrounds to connect and experience wonderful opportunities to makes them feel included, valued, and free. This is for the children; they are heard; it’s theirs.
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
Camp SoulGrow is a completely donation-based 501(c)(3) non-profit, year-round workshop camp for all kids, inspiring children’s growth from the inside out. All kids are welcome year-round, regardless of where they live or how much money their families have. The children at Camp SoulGrow get to do and not just dream. Given the diversity of the camp’s curriculum and open-arms, donation-operated workshops, children are able to explore new interests, learn to be open-minded, find things they never knew they were good at, build the confidence to be creative and independent thinkers, make unconventional friendships to last a lifetime, and discover power within themselves to carry through life. We help children find their passions and strengths, and help grow their self-esteem, while connecting them with all walks of life.
What do you feel gives you longevity in Montauk or the Hamptons?
I see the growing need for what I am doing. Actually, I see it everywhere, but specifically the need for kids out here because there is such diversity with limited options. In today’s social-media obsessed society, especially out in The Hamptons where the extremely rich are next to the very poor, we break the lines and bridge the gaps of socio-economic boundaries to give to all kids, because we believe all kids deserve equal opportunities to gain self-esteem and connect with themselves and the people around them. I’m serving on the Suffolk County Youth Council as a board member, representing Legislative District #2, and the issues discussed and outlined in our meetings are all issues Camp SoulGrow has solutions for (supporting mental health, creating jobs, offering transportation for children, eliminating bullying, etc.). Besides watching the positive transformation of the children of Camp SoulGrow, seeing the facts and numbers rise as an epidemic, there’s no way I can turn away— I actually need to open more locations!
How do you positively impact your clientele?
I know the children feel genuinely loved, supported, listened to, and free at Camp SoulGrow. I know they feel safe physically and mentally. I know I help families by supplying opportunities for them and their children to come together, try new things, and not have the pressure of keeping up financially when they cannot afford it. They know we are love.
What is your favorite part of your job?
Watching children transform from being shy, scared, uncomfortable or nervous to being outgoing, fearless, confident, and brave! It is truly the most beautiful gift to watch the children push themselves and then beam with pride and confidence because they accomplished something they didn’t think they could. I also love watching friendships and bonds form from all walks of life. I am truly blessed to be able to see the children and our work through the eyes of God!
What is your favorite secret MTK spot?
My favorite secret Montauk spot is actually a fishing spot we found where we always catch the big ones!
How do you benefit mamas?
Because our workshops are donation-based, many families who would not be able to afford the opportunities we provide are given these opportunities for their children and community. Besides our SoulGrow Bus, I personally pick up and drop off children all of the time. I bend over backwards for the parents and don’t mind because I would never want the kids to not be able to come. Also, because of the hundreds of no-fee workshops and events I throw year-round, they always have something fun to look forward to!
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
The children tell me how much Camp SoulGrow means to them, they know it’s theirs and it warms my heart. I have working parents tell me how much our services have helped their children grow and experience things they would never get to. Our local government officials endorse and support Camp SoulGrow and tell me all the time how much they appreciate the work I am doing for the future of the communities. But I think the most memorable is always when a child tells me they found a new passion or friend because of Camp SoulGrow.
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field:
Mr. Tom O’Donahue is a wonderful man who gives so much back! He works with Paddlers of Humanity, which raises money each year by paddling 18 miles to Block Island to raise money to help fund local charities on the East End. He is such a true giver and definitely works from his heart!
What is the best advice anyone's ever given you? Or what is your "mantra" / words to live by?
Follow your heart.
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving trick?
I take notes while I exercise.