By Liv Joselle Grant, Village Chief, Camp Matollionequay

I am the youngest of three and I was raised by a single mother. My mother couldn’t afford much for us, but thanks to the scholarship opportunities that camp has to offer, I was able to attend Camp Matollionequay(Matolly) – the place I now call home – for many years.

Growing up, I struggled with making friends at school. As a loud and energetic child, I was always told to not talk so much and sit down, but at camp, I can be myself.

At camp, I learned how to develop meaningful and long-lasting relationships, I learned how to be a leader, and discover my strengths; which I believe are skills I wouldn’t have acquired had I not been able to attend Matolly. This is my fourth year as a staff member and my second year as Oneida Village Chief. I have witnessed the impact that camp has and continues to have on so many girls and teens. The feeling of being able to give back to ensure that girls like me get an opportunity to attend Camp Matollionequay fills me with so much pride. I often think back to the times at camp, where I was a hot-headed thirteen-year-old and wasn’t sure how to cope with my emotions. I feel grateful that I’m capable of teaching my campers skillful coping mechanisms on how to deal with their own emotions and overcome difficult situations.

The other night, I ran an evening activity where I allowed my campers to write positive things on each other with washable markers. After seeing my campers for over an hour with words like “you are strong” and “you are loved” written on them, it reminded me of the true reason why camp is so important. It’s not just about the fun activities like boating and arts and crafts, it’s about the positive reinforcement that is instilled in campers, and the lessons learned that are carried on into their everyday lives. For some, camp may last a week or two a year, but the impact that Matolly has on each camper lasts for a lifetime. Camp has contributed to tremendous growth in my character over the past 13 years. This is why it is so important to give the gift of opportunity and help send kids to camp.