The Gift of Being a Non Profit Summer Camp

Group of teens hug goodbye intensely

I asked my wife while we were walking our dogs the other day why I didn’t make OTC a non-profit years ago, and she said, “you were always so busy planning for summer.” I thought, “oh, yeah, I remember that,” but if I knew then what I know now, I would have focused more on becoming a 501cs organization to reach more teens and make more of an impact.

For twenty years, OTC has changed lives. Now, as a non-profit, donations are helping us make camp available to more teenagers, provide additional programming and create an even more diverse and fully inclusive population. We are excited about the opportunities that lie ahead.

Changing and saving lives

Providing a place where a shy teenager who has few friends can come and be welcomed and befriended just for being themselves is no small thing. It can be a life-changing and sometimes life-saving event when a transgender or gender-questioning teenager comes to camp, chooses a new name or a new pronoun, and knows their choice will be affirmed, respected, and even understood by peers and staff.

Becoming a not-for-profit has opened doors

Asking for financial help takes a little getting used to, but I think becoming a non-profit camp will be a blessing. In October, we ran a 4-day fundraising campaign and raised nearly $40,000 from 250 people. Many donations came from campers and counselors that I had not heard from in years. Other donations came from friends and total strangers who want to support causes like ours. Two former counselors, Marlon and Carla, who met at camp and are getting married soon, held a 24-hour streaming game-a-thon to raise money. Exploring Twitch, a place many campers flock to for entertainment, was exciting. The last three months of grassroots fundraising were a new experience for us, but your support assured me that OTC has a bright future.

New support from LGBTQ foundations

Several foundations have recently pledged $5,000-$10,000 to support our scholarship fund. Most recently, the Leonard Litz Foundation, a foundation started by a gay couple committed to helping LGBTQ youth thrive, donated $25,000. This money will be used so more LGBTQ+ teenagers whose families need financial help can come to camp.

We will also use these funds to actively assist teens of color so we can become even more racially diverse. One of the foundation founders, Roger Litz, said that he knew who he was when he was young, a gay young man, and on some level, he also knew that just surviving would be a challenge. With their donation, we are showing LGBTQ+ teenagers not only how to survive but how to thrive!

Thanks to everyone who donated and supported us over the years. We are still working to raise more money, so if you know somebody who knows somebody, please send them our way. We are getting ready to go back to camp in five months, and the donations we are receiving will help us this summer and for many more summers to come.

Adam Simon, Odyssey Teen Camp Director

Adam Simon

I'm Adam Simon. I started teen camp eighteen years ago with the vision of creating a space where teenagers would know they are safe from bullying or negative judgments and would feel free to show who they really are and to become their best selves. Let's connect, discuss, and engage...
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Find Out About Odyssey Teen Camp

A Non-Profit Overnight Summer Camp For Teens Ages 13-18
Located in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts.