The ‘Head Kid’ Makes Good

With guidance from chefs at Swallow East, children in a Camp SoulGrow workshop earlier this year made fresh pasta and strawberry shortcake. Camp SoulGrow

In the nine months since Camp SoulGrow received nonprofit status, more than 230 kids have taken advantage of its 127 free and low-cost programs. Many of them were offered in collaboration with local businesses and community organizations and overseen by the camp’s tireless founder, London Rosiere, who gives herself the apt title of “head kid.”

“This last year, my challenge was building it,” Ms. Rosiere said on Monday while putting finishing touches on her end-of-year fund-raising letter at Starbucks in East Hampton. In the camp’s first full year she wanted to prove what it was all about and that she could deliver on the mission of “inspiring children’s growth from the inside out.”

She strives to offer workshops that get kids away from screens and electronics and put them in touch with “real people teaching real things”: chefs, business owners, sailors, artists, musicians, yogis, surfers, gardeners, even postal workers and baristas. She also pushes the importance of volunteering, leading teams of kids as they join beach cleanups or help other organizations do things like deliver turkeys for Thanksgiving.

Camp SoulGrow is about “giving the next generation the opportunities to find themselves . . . to be wonderful people.” Surrounded by so much wealth and so many people who have so much, “it’s very easy to see what you don’t have,” Ms. Rosiere said. “I want to show kids what they do have, and how to do things on their own, from sewing with a needle to learning table manners.”

The best testament to her success is the enthusiasm of her campers, age 7 and up, who swirl around her like a pint-size posse during workshops and lavish her with attention when she’s out and about around town.

While the first part of 2015 was about proving her organization’s worth and finding it a home — she rents space from Suffolk County in Third House at the Montauk County Park — this last part of the year is about making sure that the camp’s programs can be sustained through more significant donations, grants, and other support.

Local businesses and people in the community have been generous with their time and welcoming to the campers. Bridgehampton National Bank pledged support for her $2,500 purchase earlier this year of a surplus Suffolk County bus that seats 15. She is excited to be able to take kids outside of Montauk for some experiences, but until donations begin to flow in, she cannot yet afford the nearly $4,800 to insure the vehicle.

Until now, Ms. Rosiere has covered most of Camp SoulGrow’s expenses out of her own pocket using money left to her by her mother, who died in 2014. She has kept overhead low by doing much of the hands-on and behind-the-scenes work herself. Still, there is only so much one head kid can do.

“I would like to have three camps running at a time, but I can’t get there without funding,” she said.

To that end, she is collecting tax-deductible donations through her website,, and by mail at Camp SoulGrow, P.O. Box 1016, Montauk 11954. Donations of art and sports tickets are also coming in for a Charity Buzz auction, with a link to auction items also found on the camp’s website.

She is planning her second annual Mardi Gras fund-raiser in February and is hoping to run a series of workshops over the Christmas break, but details had not been finalized as of yesterday.