A tiny coffee-farming village way up in the Blue Mountains above Kingston is home to what might just be the most progressive summer camp program in the world, or at least our corner of it. Lil’ Raggamuffin Summer Camp is a long-term mentorship and community-development program which seeks to turn local kinds into creators, creating economic opportunities for the community by “bringing the global marketplace to the rural landscape.”
A true grassroots enterprise, founder Zebi Williams started the camp when she was just 18, as her way of passing on the character-building opportunities she gained living in that same community as a child. In a few years, Lil’ Raggamuffin has grown into a one-of-a-kind program which brings volunteer young professionals from various creative fields (film/video production, fashion design, music, dance) to the village, called Settlement, where they serve as counselors and role models for the lion’s share of local kids—about 125 in all—from ages four all the way up to 19. Kids from the program have used the camp as a springboard to direct movies, and even write books.
Now, movement is afoot to turn the camp into something even bigger, a year-round community center called the Blue Mountain Art Institute, on the site of the summer camp. Read all about the big plans for it here. This Sunday, June 9, Lil Raggamuffin is hosting an architect design charette to begin the process of building the Blue Mountain Art Institute, gathering local youth, community leaders, Jamaican engineers, designers, and other partners to gather input in the design.
If you’re in NYC this weekend, you can help support the camp and bring these goals closer to reality by attending Lil’ Raggamuffin’s sixth-annual fundraiser. LargeUp is the official media sponsor for the event, and our own DJ Gravy will be holding down sounds at the benefit ‘longside Mel0-X and Hard Hittin’ Harry; there will also be live music from Tecla, King Holiday and Charly & Margaux.
RSVP to Saturday’s fundraiser (from 3 to 7 pm at Brooklyn Stoops in Bed-Stuy) here and, if you are unable to attend, but would still like to show your support, you can donate here. For more on Lil Raggamuffin Summer Camp, watch one of the videos from their web series below, and catch the full series here.