Finding New Hope in Virtual Camp

Finding New Hope in Virtual Camp

OTC Summer camp Online

Call it whatever you want, our virtual camp is helping teens through these times.

Like a lot of other businesses, this pandemic has been tough on summer camp people. Most of us spent the first two months of the pandemic worrying whether we would be allowed to open, and this last month many of us realized that it does not make much sense to try and do so.

We were trying to create all sorts of ways to keep COVID 19 out of camp but also knew that our rational thinking can only take us so far when looking for answers to questions that no one currently has the answers to.

Camps that canceled have been angry at camps planning to open, and camps planning to open can find plenty of their own reasons to be angry. COVID 19 often has us feeling scared, helpless, and confused. I think many of us are more comfortable expressing those feelings as anger, than what they really are, fear of living in this world that we can no longer make sense of.

The highway signs near my house say “Stay New York Tough.” I get the idea, but I don’t feel all that tough lately. Confused, stuck, frustrated, scared, but “tough”? not so much…

A new program

Virtual camp activities.

Sample virtual camp schedule at Odyssey Teen Camp.

A few weeks ago we started an online camp program. I’ve heard some people put virtual camp down, saying “It’s not camp!” Well, you can call it what you want, what I’ve seen in the few weeks it’s been running is that it can be pretty great.

Teens are connecting, having fun, and feeling less isolated and alone. We are trying new things, making new friends, and sharing our gifts. We have over thirty-five teenagers registered and I hope we will get a lot more.

There are great people leading unique activities, and great teenagers showing up. Everyone is being included, respected, seen, and heard. We are having fun but also tackling some tough questions about the world we are living in. We are trying to help teens discover more wisdom, truth, and love for themselves and this new world we are all living in.

Different classes each week

This is no joke…


Creating this program is a lot of work but I think it’s worth it. I hope we will be able to use it to spend the next several months connecting, learning new skills and discovering more about each other, our world, and the ways we can make it better. OTC has always had some of the most unique summer programming and attracted teens outside the “norm.” Besides computers, our online program is no different.

Virtual camp is still pretty new to us and while it may not be camp the way we know it, I am really glad we are doing it. I recently ran an online sharing circle with my friend Francesca and I’ve been leading sharing circles with teens and adults for a long time and I think this circle felt as helpful and valuable as any other circle I’ve been a part of.

Our online camp is a safe, fun, and an interesting way to connect, support, encourage, and love one another. To me, that makes more sense than trying to hang “New York Tough”.

Summer Camp Online 2020 now in session!

Regretfully we had to cancel camp for 2020 but we now have an online program where teens can jump-in at any time. It may be the perfect way for teens to test the waters and meet the OTC community in a relaxed way. See the video below. Find out more.

Magic: The Gathering Card Game at Odyssey Teen Camp

Magic: The Gathering Card Game at Odyssey Teen Camp

6 young men at Odyssey Teen Camp showing off a rare card from a booster pack at Odyssey Teen Camp.

Showing off a rare card from a booster pack at the Magic: the Gathering Intensive.

At Odyssey Teen Camp, we have a rich and diverse selection of classes from campers to choose from. One that has become very popular in the last few years is our Magic: The Gathering intensive, where campers get to play the game together in a week-long activity block. One of our counselors, Aaron, has been playing Magic since he first came to camp as a young teenager. Here, he explains a little bit about how Magic works and what makes it so appealing.

The Anticipation 

“There is a great amount of excited commotion and speculation in the Dining Hall today. An eclectic bunch of campers sit in two groups of 8 around the long tables, waiting eagerly to begin. Most of them have never played this game before, and now, they will be expected to make decisions that will impact them for the rest of the week. There is talk of Mythic Rares and magical beings who can travel across space and time. Of ancient and unkillable monsters and of powerful sorceries. When it comes to strategy games, there is nothing like Magic: the Gathering.

The Magic Intensive

In the OTC Magic Intensive: Campers are invited to build their very own deck of cards to battle with through a special format called booster draft. This is kind of like a sports draft, where you take turns picking the player (card) who you think will fit best on your team. At the end of the week, the campers with the best record in a 3 round Swiss (non-elimination) tournament all get more cards to add to their collection (everyone gets something just for playing though).

Much More Than a Card Game

Magic is a game that builds communication skills, promotes friendships and healthy competition and encourages reading, math and critical thinking in ways that stimulate the imagination. The game has been around for 25 years and has seen many changes and at Odyssey, Magic has somewhat developed a cult status. Campers from just about every Pod play the game and older campers as well as counselors help new campers learn the game and improve their skills.

If you’ve never played Magic before, this is the best place in the world to start. We can’t wait to see you on the battlefield!”

Summer Camp Online 2020 now in session!

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we had to cancel camp for 2020 but we now have an online program where teens can jump in any time. It may be the perfect thing for kids that are into fantasy games and all sorts of offbeat activities that we are pretty sure you won’t find any place else. Come test the waters and meet the community. Watch the video to find out more.

Find Out More About Odyssey Teen Camp

Welcomed by Snow Cones and Ultimate Frisbee – More Teen Camp Confessions

Welcomed by Snow Cones and Ultimate Frisbee – More Teen Camp Confessions

Ava laying on her cabin bunk bed

Learning skills and feeling accepted at Teen Camp

Welcome to the second installment of our teen camp confessions!

We’ve got two more for you today. First we have one from Ava, and then one from Venice, Kacper, and Emmanuel (left to right). Enjoy, and we hope to see you at our open house on May 8th, and at Odyssey Teen Camp this summer!


Finding Gratitude in the Sweat Lodge at Teen Camp

Finding Gratitude in the Sweat Lodge at Teen Camp

Two elders at camp

For thirteen summers Bill Record, a.k.a. Medicine Bear, has been leading sweat lodges and unique building projects at camp. He has been an inspiration and mentor to thousands of teenagers and camp counselors. We are lucky to have a man so committed to helping teenagers navigate their lives. Below Bill shares some of his feelings about Odyssey.


Gratitude is a key spiritual practice that we may take too lightly. For example I carry with me an eternal gratitude for the time I have spent at Teen Camp. It keeps me young to hang with a bunch of teens for a month each year. I just had my 70th birthday and most of my headspace is still 18.

The sweat lodges at teen camp are the highlight of my year. It is a ‘Gift from the Gods’ to allow me to pray and sing with a group of young adults. The girls lodge is especially moving. To be in a lodge with 100 young women singing “Amazing Grace” is absolutely mind boggling.

At one of the girls lodges last summer they started singing at the beginning of the second round and sang continuously throughout the round. One of the songs was a call and response type of song with a faint female voice at the far side of the lodge calling with the whole lodge responding. Magic Manifested Magnificently!! I told them that round would go into the Guinness Book of Records.

Another special moment is when there is a period of total silence. Everyone has let go of their usual mental chatter and entered into a dialog with the Infinite. There is an opening to touch Sacred Ground that can eventually be accessed more easily in daily life.

I really don’t know how to fully express my Gratitude for the Sacred Gift of sharing this space with a group of young men and women.

Peace and Blessings,
Medicine Bear

Find out about Odyssey Teen Camp

A great place for teens to be exactly who they are in a community that celebrates diversity. 


How a Shy Thirteen Year Old Girl Came to Teen Camp, Walked Through Fire to Find Her Courage, Voice, and a Wonderful Mentor.

How a Shy Thirteen Year Old Girl Came to Teen Camp, Walked Through Fire to Find Her Courage, Voice, and a Wonderful Mentor.

Caroline by the waterfront

Caroline’s story of firewalking her way to confidence at Odyssey Teen Camp

Today’s story comes from Caroline, and we’re so grateful to her for sharing it. It always inspires us so much to see young women like Caroline come to teen camp and come alive with a renewed sense of self and confidence. But don’t take my word for it! Here’s Caroline’s story, in her words:

“My name is Caroline, and when I was 13 years old, I arrived at my first sleep-away camp, called Odyssey Teen Camp (OTC). I was small, shy, and insecure. I went to OTC to build some confidence and meet some friends.

Little did I know how big of an impact this camp would have on me.

The Director, Adam Simon, is a wonderful man looking to give kids an experience they will never forget. The camp was/is situated in Holmes, New York. on beautiful land. The whole atmosphere of the camp is open, loving, and free spirited. I was nervous at first, and it took me a day or two to adjust to this new place, but soon I felt right at home. However, my story doesn’t end there.

At OTC they have so many different activities and classes to choose from, you can practically do whatever your heart desires. The second week there, I saw a class called “Feel your Fear, Find your Power,” by the one and only Nancy Chernoff. Each summer a few visiting teachers come to camp and lead certain activities. Nancy’s program helps people bust through fears by doing a number of activities, including Firewalking. When I heard about this class, I was very interested and thought I would give it a try.

I had no idea how this workshop would dramatically change the course of my life. In Nancy’s class, we break boards with our hands, snap arrows, bend rebar and of course Firewalk. These physical actions are about breaking through our limited beliefs and to help us realize our true potential. I’ve always had a flame inside me, but Nancy helped ignite it. This workshop showed me that anything is possible. I firewalked, and while I did get a small fire kiss, it just showed me how much unused potential we all have.

I learned so much from this workshop and year after year I continued to go back and bust through certain self imposed limitations again and again. Nancy has not only changed my life, but has become a very close friend, and always will be. In life, you will meet certain people through circumstances like this, and you will feel a very strong bond with them. Hold them close, for they will be there for you through thick and thin.

Today I am 18 and I am strong, powerful, and confident. In the last 6 years, I have achieved so much more than I ever thought possible. I am in my junior year of high school and starting the college process soon. I can’t wait to see where the rest of my life takes me. I attribute a lot of my mental and physical strength to Nancy and to teen camp. So, if your thinking about going to Odyssey, do it, because you never know how it will change your life and I am living proof of it.”

Wow, Caroline. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Your confidence and fire is an inspiration to all of us.

So, what do you think? It doesn’t matter if you’re from New York City (we’re only a few hours away) – Our summer camp community has changed the lives of thousands of young people since 2003.

Find out about Odyssey Teen Camp

A great place for teens to be exactly who they are in a community that celebrates diversity. 


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