Camp Harbor View Alumni: Jamal Grant

“…what makes Camp Harbor View unique is how it has transformed the lives of myself and others,”

I am a Camp Harbor View alumnus. I am also a recent graduate of UMass Lowell, I currently work as a mechanical/aerospace engineer at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, I am a 2015 Humanity in Action Fellow, I am the Founder of an organization called The NET Mentoring Group and I have just returned from a genocide study trip in Rwanda this past month. On this journey to where I am now, Camp Harbor View has played an immense role in helping me set and attain personal goals, secure opportunities, and achieve success. And while the grand influence that CHV has had on me is quite indisputable at this point in my life, it’s always amusing for me to think about how differently I thought of camp when I was forced to attend as a 14 year old back in 2007. And, I tell this story all the time, but on my first day of camp, my brother and I sat in the back of the Great Hall observing this brand new facility, the beautiful ocean view and all the excited staff members and campers. Despite these impressive things, I remember my only thought was, “Wow, this is a really nice place, too bad I’m never coming back”. I can only laugh when I think of those times now because, little did I know, this would be the organization that would have the greatest impact on my life.

To some, camp can be seen as just a camp- sports, swimming, art- the whole nine. But what makes Camp Harbor View unique is how it has transformed the lives of myself and others in both measurable and immeasurable ways. When I joined camp, I was all about myself, my academics and basketball. I thought those were the only things that mattered. Camp exposed me to new opportunities, activities, careers and, most importantly, perspectives, that I had never previously considered. At camp, I gained my first interest in law school through their Discovering Justice program, was offered my first robotics engineering internship at Hasbro the toy company, was awarded life and career-altering financial assistance to attend college, I built self-confidence from the encouragement of staff members, and gained priceless perspective into the importance of helping others.

Along with these amazing things, camp has also had a significant impact on the way that I view my personal responsibility to others. In my many one-on-one discussions with the camp staff and directors, the sharing of knowledge and experiences truly became some of my most cherished moments of being at camp. In those discussions I began to understand the importance of empathizing with others. For the first time, I had realized that not everyone had the same foundation I had in life. By watching the staff help some of the more troubled kids work through their issues, I started to see that the choice between right and wrong wasn’t always as black and white as I had always presumed. I realized that the consequence of not helping those kids wouldn’t just fall on them, but would impact us all. And I can honestly say, that for the first time, I wanted to help.

From the relationships I built with staff, I realized some pretty cool things. I realized that adults were people too. They were nervous sometimes, frustrated sometimes.. imperfect all the time. More than you can imagine, this was one of the most potent equalizers and forms of inspiration for me. It helped me realize that I, too, could do what they did and that I, too, could accomplish things that they accomplished. It helped me connect with the relevance of their personal experiences despite the generational, socio-economic and even racial differences that had always seemed to be so insurmountable. Their investment in us helped build, within me, a commitment to others, a commitment to learning and a commitment to the CHV organization. These principles go beyond the bounds of CHV and are also applicable, and, I’d argue, necessary in all of our endeavors both professional and social.

For me, CHV was not just a summer camp, but a series of invaluable life lessons disguised in fun activities and positive relationships. In many ways, my experience at Camp Harbor View was enjoyable and unparalleled– the rock climbing, the sports, the people … I can go on and on. But the most amazing, unexpected and long-lasting impact it has had, and will continue to have, is how it helped me to grasp the importance of understanding and supporting others. Camp taught me that relationships, knowledge sharing and open-mindedness go a long way in changing lives. It has been the inspiration for the starting of my non-profit, The NET Mentoring Group, which focuses on tackling the STEM achievement and opportunity gap in the Boston area.

Ivan 

“Camp helped me open up and find different ways to express myself, and who it is I’m supposed to be.”
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Mariana

“Camp made everything possible. Without camp, I don’t know where I would be. It’s that simple.”
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Ayjah & Brianna 

“…Camp gave us scholarships so that we were able to further our education, so we could grow,”
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Alejandro 

“I never would have gotten better without camp. There’s no way I can thank them enough.”
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Malika & Mike Williams 

“I don’t have to hold his hand anymore…He’s made his own way,”
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Jamal Grant 

“…what makes Camp Harbor View unique is how it has transformed the lives of myself and others,”
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