April 13, 2010
 

The CampInteractive Equation

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By Sara Holoubek

What do at-risk kids and technology have in common? Usually nothing. When you think about it, if you don't have a home, have an unstable home, or just a really small home, the chances that you have a home computer are pretty slim. This is why CampInteractive, a non profit located in the Bronx, exists. The program bridges the digital and leadership divide by introducing the creative power of technology and the inspiration of the outdoors to inner city youth in one program.

During the summer, the kids go camping, making sure to record their thoughts in ink or via donated digital technology. When they return to the city, they take a web design and development class to produce a work about their experience. During the rest of the year, the students get tutoring and tech help at CampInteractive's Tech and Trek center in the Bronx. In this sense, the kids navigate two different adventures-into the wild and onto the web. The end result is a sense of innovation, teamwork and confidence that will vault them to the forefront of the labor force, and specifically, the interactive advertising labor force.

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When my friend Reza Khalili introduced me to CampInteractive, I was instantly smitten with the idea. I attribute much of my gumption to growing up in the boondocks. There is something about country experiences - such as knowing how thick the ice needs to be before you can walk on it to figuring out how exactly to get out of the forest you wandered into - that contributes to self-confidence. What better than a program that offers this and technology, my other love, to boot?

From a pragmatic perspective, investing in organizations such as CampInteractive ensures that our own businesses continue to thrive. I challenge anyone reading this now to show me one firm that isn't constantly on the hunt for good interactive talent.

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On a more personal level, there is nothing like the feeling of giving back. While I know that my financial contribution provides technology and trips for the kids, the program has also given me something in return: perspective. Writing that first check is a psychological struggle; the mind is flooded with things that we "should" be buying instead. Then it hits you. $200, $500, $1,000 or $5,000 means a lot more to these kids' education that it could ever mean to established professionals contemplating a kitchen renovation. If you are like most, you probably spend $500 a year on Starbucks, a pair of Manolo Blahniks or on tech gadgets without blinking an eye.

I have since become a big fan of helping people and firms part with at least a portion of their money for a greater good. It doesn't need to be CampInteractive. Just find a cause you believe in and give it a try. But for those of you who are interested, our annual fundraiser is coming up. So here is my challenge: I will match the cumulative donations to CampInteractive up to $5,000.

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Here's how it works:
1. Make a secure donation in the name of CampInteractive from the Celebration to Benefit New York Kids website
2. Click on "Donate Now" on the right-hand side, or click here
3. If you'd like to attend the event, select a package or indicate the number of tickets
4. If you can't make it, select "other" and specify donation amount
5. Make sure to select "CampInteractive" in the drop down
6. Drop me a note at saraholoubek@gmail.com so I can get working on my fundraising thermometer

If you are still unsure, let me remind you that charitable donations have tax benefits, and who couldn't use a bit of that?

In the meantime, save the date for our Celebrity Golf and Tennis Invitation to be held on May 3-4, 2008 in Miami.

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Sara Holoubek is a free agent consultant serving the interactive sector and its investors. She can be reached on saraholoubek@gmail.com.

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