An outdoor rite-of-passage experience for urban youth


Camping to cONNECT

Our Program

Camping to Connect is an experiential learning and mentorship initiative for underserved young men from New York’s inner-city communities.

Created by Mastermind Connect, a membership-based resource group for progressive men, we use outdoor-based recreation to instill self-reliance, healthy lifestyle choices, leadership, introspection and brotherhood.



Access to Nature

For youth living in America’s inner cities, nature is hard to come by.

Current research indicates that exposure to nature can have numerous physical, emotional and cognitive benefits for young people, including greater attention capacities, reduced stress levels, and improved self-esteem.



A Unique Campsite

Camping to Connect is granted special access to operate on Governors Island, a beautiful 172-acre park in the heart of New York Harbor that normally is closed to overnight visitors.

The island’s rich history as a former military base and its natural attractions provide a backdrop for myriad educational opportunities -- and an unforgettable experience.

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A Rite of Passage

The moment they arrive on island, our participants leave the New York City they know behind.

We teach them how to set up camp, prepare meals, and survive outdoors. Breakout sessions with mentors explore goal-setting and promote peer bonding. Fitness and urban farm workshops introduce healthy living habits. Campfire rituals, meditation and journal-writing invite personal reflection.

Leaving by ferry the next day, our young men return changed and inspired.



Future Leaders

Our current participants are juniors and seniors in NYC Urban Ambassadors, an extracurricular program from the New York City Department of Education’s Office of Equity and Access that provides access to leadership training and mentorship to distinctive young men of color from across NYC's public high schools.

Students who have completed the Urban Ambassadors program have a 100% graduation rate from high school, and all enroll in college.

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Although we started this journey on September of 2018 at Governors Island - and will continue to have our premier event on the anniversary week- we’re also having camping experiences that go beyond the NYC area from the moment school is out in the Summer.

Please take a look at our first official Camping to Connect event!


Sponsors & Partners

We are grateful for the generous support from our brand partners



There are many costs required to produce this unique experience, including: camping equipment; food and beverage; emergency medical services, security guards, and ferry on stand-by; insurance, and transportation to and from the island. 100% of the proceeds from this campaign go to operating expenses.

And we don’t plan to stop there. We aim to grow Camping to Connect into a broad movement that addresses the issue of "nature deficiency " faced by New York’s urban youth, with multiple events held throughout the year that will affect the lives of promising young men of color.

Please help us provide this unforgettable experience in September on Governors Island -- as well as future events, too -- with your donation today.

We’re grateful for your support!

Camping to Connect is part of the Young Masterminds Initiative, launched by Mastermind Connect, a membership based resource group for today's progressive man.

Contact Us


Mastermind Connect Founders Vernon Jones, Marlon Briscoe, Mike McConnell and Manny Almonte