During this time of year, people always feel the need to give back. Whether if it’s the change of seasons, religious holidays, or both. People are looking for a way to give back. The good people at Camp Ryan wants to make giving back not only cool but continuous as well. Mogul Millennial spoke with two of the founders Ryan and Panama to get an in-depth look at their annual community service event, The Good Weekend and Camp Ryan in general.
Is Camp Ryan a Non-Profit entity?
Ryan: We are a lifestyle brand with a non-profit focus. We essentially do charitable work, and alot of philanthropy work. Our philanthropic efforts is what truly drives us and brings people together.
Panama: We want the people in our community to have a foundation in the work that we do. Because we are all about unity, we want to make sure that our lifestyle brand goes hand-in-hand with the community work.
Other than being an extension of Good Friday, what was the motivation to start The Good Weekend?
Panama: Honestly the idea behind the Good Weekend was yes, to capitalize on the fact that Easter was there. But at the same time, as time has progressed, I think the meaning of the actual weekend has gone away. We’ve decided to put the aspect of community back in it.
Most people go to church during the time that Good Weekend occurs, and the whole purpose of most religions or any foundation is the concept of giving/forgiveness. People always intend to do good, especially during Easter time, and our organization gives them the possibility to do so by creating the action for them to do.
With everything going on in the country right now, why is it important that individuals give back to their communities?
Ryan: Based on our upbringing, we recognized very early on the value of giving back. Anyone of us can lose our day jobs and go broke. Everybody needs support. We operate where if there is something urgent, we operate and do it. Sort of like the Red Cross. As a non-profit, we do not have to wait for a certain agency to tell us to support a community, we just focus on a need a community has and we try to uplift them immediately.
Panama and I both live in Harlem, so for us, it is really important that we are investing in communities, especially communities of color so that they can have representation and giving back and so forth.
Earlier, you said the Good Weekend is extended throughout the year, what community service activities will be done over that time?
Panama: So we have a couple of initiatives that happen throughout the year, one of those is our Hunger Games Initiative which is our attack on food. Where we come together as a group of volunteers and create sandwiches, the goal is usually between 100-300 sandwiches on a particular night. Then we split up into four different groups and we hit the streets. Delivering sandwiches and whichever team delivers all of their sandwiches first, gets rewarded. It is of a competitive nature to give back, so giving back to the community while having fun at the same time.
Another initiative that we have is The Filtered Pool Party, which is our attack on trying to get clean water. People are not drinking enough water, especially during the summertime. So what we did is we threw a pool party. Since there are not a lot of public pools in New York City, we rented out a pool and we asked our guests and patrons to bring water. And that water that we receive we give back to the community.
Another initiative that we use is the Block-by-Block. It is a way that we beautify the area around the city. So we tap into a local area and we build things around it.
The last initiative that we have is Camp Ryan Exposed. It is where we work with local youth shelters and we give youth an experience that they would not normally have. We come in and we teach them skills that do not previously have, i.e. photography, Adobe Creative Suite, etc. And using those skills that we teach them to become a better them.
Is Camp Ryan based in New York Only?
Panama: So we are based out of Harlem, New York but we have done community service at a global level. We’ve done service events in New Zealand, Canada, Washington D.C., Atlanta, and Cuba.
Does Camp Ryan has plans to helps areas that are still being affected by tragedies like Houston and Puerto Rico?
Ryan: Yeah, definitely. We definitely want to harvest opportunities to find those who rock with us in those areas. We don’t call volunteers, volunteers, we call them Campers. People give back and that’s good, but we want to find ways to continually give back and give people the support that they need.
What do you want the end result of the Good Weekend to be?
Panama: The end result is to challenge communities. We want to tap into that feeling, tap into your heart and make you think “Why Can’t I?” We want to challenge people who look like us to do community service just to do it, not because they were told to do it. If they see a problem in their community that they can change it, and I want the Good Weekend to spark that fire in someone to do those things.
Ryan: Yeah, the Good Weekend is just a precursor. There are moments where you can give back. By saying hi to someone on the street, by supporting them financially, or even giving them a meal. Creating culture that people can give back continuously through their daily lives and not just a one-time thing. We want to be the hub for that and that Good Weekend values can be translated into their lifestyle.
The Good Weekend is a lifestyle brand, can you speak more of that?
Panama: The business model of buying a shoe then giving a shoe. Everything that you purchase you can cipher out. So for example, if you purchase food, it will go towards food for a person. If you want your money to go to a particular area, like your community, then it can go there. You can become your own philanthropist just by purchasing. We saw through Black Panther that we have purchasing power, so why not put it to good use.
Panama: If you want to find out more information about Camp Ryan, come out to an event and get dirty with us, give back.