Macedonia Community Development Corporation (MACorp) wrapped up its 11th Girls’ Empowerment Camp (GEC) and sixth Camp SWAG for Boys (Success While Achieving Godliness) with an exuberant “close-out” event August 2 at Macedonia Baptist Church, Heathsville.
The keynote speaker was Kyndia Riley. A 2015 graduate of Northumberland High School, Riley has since earned a bachelors’ in chemistry and anthropology from the University of Virginia. She is using her final year to complete a master’s in education.
Riley overcame great odds to achieve such success, reported MACorp director Judy Thomson. Since age 2, both of her parents have been incarcerated in a federal prison serving life sentences. She was raised by her grandparents. In addition to her studies, she has been an advocate and a mentor for children with incarcerated parents. She is involved in a project to end mass incarceration so that children will not have to endure the traumatic loss of a parent or parents.
Riley spoke after the campers made brief reports on their experiences. She urged the GEC and SWAG participants, who were gathered with parents, friends and supporters of MACorp, to use their own stories to be the successful people they are capable of being, said Thomson. She noted how she could have used her story to remain an angry underachiever, or—as she did—use her story to motivate herself to turn her life into something positive.
Riley told the campers that faith is important and that it is all right to fail.
“But,” she said, “Merely running in place is not progress. If you reach for the stars and fall down, make sure you fall forward.”
She concluded by telling the campers that, by having had the experiences they had in the GEC and Camp SWAG, they are already farther along toward promising futures than she was at their age.
The Girls’ Empowerment Camp was led by director Latasha Lee and assistant director Keana Walker. Camp SWAG was led by director Rev. Will Felton and assistant director Rev. Linwood Blizzard. Campers are ages 11-18. This year 30 girls participated in the GEC and 11 boys participated in Camp SWAG.
At the close-out event, the “Best All-Around Camper” award from GEC was awarded to Brianna Curry of Northumberland County. The “Best All-Around Camper” award from Camp SWAG went to Miles Dixon of Northumberland County…