Molly was introduced to Moorelands Camp when she was eight years old. For her, it wasn’t just a summer camp; it became a place that shaped her perspective on life and community and taught her what it means to be kind and give back.
“I come from an underprivileged family, and we didn’t have a lot of money growing up or opportunities to even go to summer camp,” explains Molly. When her mother heard about Moorelands Camp and its subsidized fees, she knew it was something that their family would be able to afford. After that, Molly attended Moorelands Camp every summer—sometimes twice in a summer—for eight years.
According to Molly, that first summer at camp was an adjustment. She wasn’t used to the routine and structure that camp provided. “It wasn’t an environment that I was used to,” she explains. But over the years, she was comforted by the structure she received at Moorelands that she didn’t receive at home or in other areas of her life. “I would try to emulate that when I got home. I learned so many things at Moorelands that became part of my personal
Behind the scenes, the dedicated staff at Moorelands Camp became positive role models to Molly, providing a consistent sense of belonging and a source of community. “It’s really nice being able to come back every summer and see the same friendly faces. They remembered me and were excited to see me, and it made me feel like I belonged,” says Molly. “The people that work at Moorelands aren’t just there as a summer job, they really care about everybody that they work for and work with. It was a community that I wanted to be a part of, and that’s why I wanted to work there as well.”
This impact led Molly to return as a staff member in 2019 and again this past summer in 2023. As a camper, she had seen the importance of the lessons taught at Moorelands, but it wasn’t until she became part of the staff that she recognized just how intentional camp is.
Molly (far right in pink sweater) working at Moorelands Camp in 2023.
“Working behind the scenes, you get to know all the things that go into the fun that you don’t get to see as a kid. It’s made me appreciate all my years as a camper so much more,” says Molly. “As a kid, you think everything you’re doing at camp is just fun, but when you get home, you realize you’ve accidentally learned a lot of valuable stuff.”
Lessons in Kindness
Beyond participating and working as staff, Molly has carried the Moorelands message with her into her own life and personal development. It ingrained in her a deep sense of empathy and selflessness, and taught her the importance of kindness.
“Moorelands has taught me that you never know what someone is going through,” she says. “I’ve really taken that into my life and try to approach every person and every situation with kindness, the way that I would at Moorelands. Everything I’ve learned from Moorelands about how you treat people and how you treat yourself has made me who I am.”
Paying It Forward
As a child, Molly and her family also received support during the holidays through Moorelands Kids’ Holiday Sharing program. Molly and her older brother, Daniel, would receive gifts from donors who ‘adopted’ their family, providing them with a wish list of items as well as grocery gift cards.
“Holiday Sharing was the reason I got Christmas presents when I was a kid. My parents couldn’t afford a lot of gifts for us, and some years those were the only gifts we got. I can’t imagine how much of a relief it was to my parents to have that support,” says Molly, who saw how much this program impacted her family growing up and wanted to pay it forward. In 2019, Molly volunteered her time at Holiday Sharing, helping families as they came in to register and pick up their donated gifts.
“I think it’s a beautiful thing to help people, especially around the holidays and when people are struggling. There are so many families that are generous and kind, and are willing to sponsor people. I wanted to help, too,” she says.
“For people who are able to give their time or money to Holiday Sharing, it is such a great opportunity to give back in your own community to something that is so important,” Molly explains. “If you’re looking for something to put your effort, time or money into, Moorelands is 100% something that you will feel proud to support. You know that support is going to a good place and that you are making a real impact.”
The Moorelands Mindset
Now, at 22 years old, Molly wants to become a teacher and help share the lessons that she learned at Moorelands with young people.
“For me personally, I always want to give back to youth and help develop the future of our community. If I could, I would send every kid to Moorelands. But what is more important than any of that is just sharing kindness,” she says. “I encourage everybody who has participated in, supported or worked with Moorelands to take a step back and think of not just what this organization is doing, but what can I do? How can I help spread this message of kindness and share what I have with others?”
In the future, Molly plans to continue to support Moorelands Kids in every way that she can, and she hopes to one day become a donor, helping inspire the message of Moorelands in other kids like herself. According to Molly, “If everybody took what they learned from Moorelands and applied it to every day of their lives, the world would be a much kinder place.”