A summer camp offers programming specifically to encourage creative expression for girls, trans, and non-binary 11-14 year-olds — but they need your help to keep going.
Local Greenpointer Jamie Matson founded Goof, Gather, and Grow in 2021, intending to foster a safe space to inspire campers to find their voices through different creative mediums. Past years included stand-up and dance workshops. This year’s theme is Comix, so if you have a budding artist on your hands, the August 21-25 camp should be a perfect place for them to hone their craft.
Full scholarships and sliding-scale admission are available, and there are still spaces left to join! Below is an interview with GGG founder Jamie Matson.
Tell us a little bit about how the camp first came together. What inspired you to start it in Greenpoint?
I started this camp during the pandemic, in 2021, when I felt like we all desperately needed joy, laughter and togetherness as well as social justice conversations. This was always meant to be an art and comedy camp, with rotating themes — so the first year it was a stand-up comedy camp for 11-14 year olds, with Fareeha Khan as our main facilitator. During the week we facilitated social justice conversations and invited guest speakers in the NYC comedy world to present their work/lives to the kids and Cocoon Central Dance Team came in to do some guest workshops with the kids, teaching them how to use comedy through movement. At the end of the week we had a stand-up comedy performance open to the public put on by the campers. I have lived in Greenpoint since 2011 — but only started feeling a part of the Greenpoint community when my daughter was born in 2019, and especially with the pandemic — McGolrick Park became our everyday stomping grounds and it still feels like a small town to me. I wanted to offer a camp in the community where we live. Though, campers in 2021 came from all different parts of Brooklyn, actually.
What kind of programming are you offering this summer?
This summer we are offering a Comix Workshop with cartoonists Ariel Schrag and Rascal Smith who are co-facilitating. Campers will learn about different styles of comics (zines, graphic novels, autobiographical, etc) and create their own comics during the workshop which at the end of the week we will have an exhibition of the kids’ comix creations and a reading by the campers which will be free and open to the public (August 25th 5-8pm at Cottonwood NYC in Greenpoint). During the week we will also have guest speakers in the comix world, facilitated social justice conversations and a screen printing workshop.
The camp is run with particular attention to social justice issues. What does it mean to you to put those issues at the forefront, especially in this increasingly hostile political climate for the LGBTQ+ community?
My goal is to create a unique environment where girls, trans and non-binary youth are the majority, and to help empower kids and foster their self-esteem by encouraging them to share their art and thoughts with each other and the community. Campers will get together with a social justice facilitator during the week to have group conversations. Conversation topics include gender identity and pronoun preferences, anti-racism, and current events. The conversations are meant to expand our ways of thinking, gain other perspectives on sensitive topics and to practice speaking openly and with respect. This is something that is so important for everyone to do and it seems especially valuable to learn and practice this skill at a young age.