An interview with Marit Molin, Founder of Hamptons Art Camp and Outreach
Q: What inspired you to start Hamptons Art Camp?
A: The Hamptons is known as a community for the rich and famous. What most people don’t realize is that many of the local families that serve the wealthy weekenders are struggling to survive. Children from privileged families have every opportunity available music lessons, dance lessons, tennis lessons, private tutors, and more. At the same time, many children from working-class families who live here year-round have no such opportunities. Figuring out how to spend long summer days while parents are working can especially tricky. I started Hamptons Art Camp to help find solutions for those problems.
Q: The time between you having the idea to start a summer camp and you holding your first camp session was three months. That’s pretty amazing! Can you talk a little about the process?
A: I was lucky early in planning to find two great teachers Meg Mandell and Julie Froehlich, from Sag Harbor Elementary School. They handled the creation and implementation of the curriculum. After that, it was a matter of finding a location and campers. The summer program at another art camp was booked, so I knew that there was a need for another art program.
The first year we quickly found space at the Water Mill Community Center. I spent a few weeks painting and fixing up the church space, and we were ready to go. We are now holding the camp at the Whaler’s Church in Sag Harbor, which is an excellent fit for us.
Q: One of the most powerful things about Hamptons Art Camp is that it brings kids from vastly different backgrounds together. I know that is important to your mission. Why is it important to you? What are the impact on the kids and the community?
A: Case studies have shown that when children from diverse backgrounds interact, everyone benefits. At their core, all children have the same interest; they want to have fun, be heard, feel cared for nurtured, and part of a community. When we break down the physical barriers that separate rich from poor- kids are just kids. They are inspired by each other’s talents and creativity and have a great time together. Some of our brightest and most talented campers come from less privileged backgrounds. In the long term, I hope that the connection they make at camp will make lasting impressions.
Q: You’ve created a culture of philanthropy at Hamptons Art Camp that provides the entire camp community with an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Why is that important to you, and what is the impact you’ve seen on the kids?
A: We want children to learn early on the importance of doing for others. It creates an awareness of the world outside of oneself and strengthens the community as a whole. A lot of discussions around philanthropy focuses on how the giver can help others, but more and more scientific evidence demonstrates the vast benefits for the giver. Researchers use the term “helpers -high” about both the physical and mental benefits of helping others. I hope that allowing children to feel those benefits at an early age will help instill a lifelong interest in philanthropy.
Q: Can you talk about some of the philanthropic projects you’ve done?
A: In the past, we have made dog beds for animal shelters and prepared food for food pantries. We have also made and sent greeting cards to the elderly at nursing homes and have done beach clean-ups
Q: Speaking of philanthropy, your response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been incredible. Within the first seven weeks of your outreach effort, you’ve raised $120,000 in donations and grants, delivered 3,000 prepared meals, 14,000 pounds of produce, you’ve provided ongoing support for 1,100 underserved community members, and you’ve made available much-needed revenue for over a dozen of restaurants supporting local jobs in the process. Can you talk about how your Outreach got started?
A: From the onset of this crisis, there were just so many different levels of need. I guess it started with the food pantries. I heard about the increased demand at the pantries, which got me thinking about the people who would have created that need and the jobs they must have lost. Restaurants are the primary source of local employment and revenue for both workers and owners. I’ve become familiar with many of the neediest communities. These communities have acutely felt the strain of this crisis. Making the connection between people needing food and people who needed to supply food was clear
Once I made that connection, it became a question of raising resources. There are so many generous people in the Hamptons. I called a few people I knew, and they called a few people, and it just keeps growing.
Q: What’s next, and how can people help?
A: We are always looking for new ways to fullfill our mission. Right now we are in the process of launching new project called We Care with the Girl Scouts from the Shinnecock Reservation. You will see more about that soon. In the meantime, please consider making a donation to Hamptons Art Camp and Outreach. We can't continue without the ongoing support and generosity of our community.