How We Can Help Our Anxious Teens Live Heroic Lives

How We Can Help Our Anxious Teens Live Heroic Lives

Teen taking a risk amongst friends at Odyssey Teen Camp

There seem to be more teenagers than ever before living with a debilitating degree of anxiety. A study by the National Institute of Health recently showed that one in three teenagers will experience an anxiety disorder, and anxiety is now considered the number one mental health problem in the U.S.

I’m sure there’s a long list of things that contribute to teenagers feeling so anxious including not enough sleep, too much time staring at screens, not enough exercise, social media, high expectations to achieve, puberty, genetics, poor diets, and the fact that our world seems pretty scary, but I think the biggest cause of social anxiety is teenagers’ fears of being judged, embarrassed, and ridiculed.

The courage to live bigger

Most of the teenagers who come to camp with a diagnosis of social anxiety are some of my favorite people. They are sweet, sensitive, kind and introspective. Unfortunately, they are also way too concerned with what they imagine other people might think about them. These worries about social approval and all the self-consciousness that comes with it can make them stop doing all the things that they really want to do, including making friends, trying new things, relaxing and being themselves. Their lives become a lot smaller at a time when they should become bigger. How can we help them find the courage to take the kinds of calculated risks that will help them discover more about themselves? How can we help them connect more with others and begin creating the lives they want to create?

 

I know it can feel bleak when anxiety seems to be stopping our teens in their tracks, but I also know that social anxiety can be overcome, and I’ve been watching teenagers do it at camp for a long time. I’ve heard that anxiety is the gap between the present and the future, and at camp, we are able to create a space where teens can relax and live more in the present.

A safe container

When teenagers recognize they are not being judged and that it’s perfectly o.k. to sometimes feel confused, insecure, clueless, and make mistakes without being put down or humiliated, it frees them to show who they really are. When they get that others are there to support them with kindness, friendship, and love, they can let go of many of their defenses, share their gifts, choose freedom over safety, love over fear, and connection over isolation.

I’m sure that convincing socially anxious teens to come to camp for the first time can be quite a challenge. I’ll write my next blog with some ideas about that, but if you want to talk about it, you can join our Facebook Group to support parents of teens with anxiety, or reach out to me directly, maybe I can help.

Thanks,

Adam

Rays of Sunshine at Odyssey Teen Summer Camp

Rays of Sunshine at Odyssey Teen Summer Camp

Alumni Camper Matt with his parents at Hollywood Bowl

Teenage boy struggling with depression finds hope and connection at summer camp

Being a young person is perhaps harder now than it ever was before. The pressures that society can place on our teens is immense – teachers demand better grades, coaches demand more time and better performances on the athletic field, and the temptations put upon our teens by their peers are greater than ever.

That’s why we believe so strongly in what we’re doing here at Odyssey Teen Camp. Below is a testimonial we just received from a family who was struggling with a lot of what we described above, and we’re so grateful that we were able to work with them and have Matthew at our summer teen camp.

Matthew’s teen camp story

“It was the springtime of 2007; we were caught in a very serious challenge with our son, Matthew, who had started to show signs of depression that compelled us to try finding solutions to support him. In our journey to find resources for this sensitive, creative and deeply soulful kid. Our research led us to Odyssey Teen Camp.

Seeing that there was an open house weekend, we piled into our car and headed to the oasis known as Odyssey Teen Camp. Arriving there we gathered with several families as Adam Simon, the camp director, guided us around the wonderful setting. Standing by the pond adjacent to the main camp, we recall Adam speaking to a question as to why he founded this camp. As he spoke, sharing with us a slice of his own life as a teenager, lost in the system and unsupported as a sensitive teen, he choked up, tears forming in his eyes. The passion shown immediately infused the adults and teens, showing clearly that Adam was not your typical man, but one with deep sensitivity and love for these lost kids trying to find their way in a world which did little to acknowledge how very special they were.

Matt spent the full month session at Odyssey Teen Camp that first summer of 2007. The kid who we left at the camp that July summer afternoon was a changed person when we came back to pick him up in August. He was filled with a sense of unity and purpose, having a lightness and buoyancy that we had not witnessed to date. This was truly a transformative experience, not only for Matt, but for all the other kids who were fortunate enough to have Adam Simon and his team open the door to a luminous world otherwise not experienced by these kids.

2008 and 2009 brought summers of his attending Odyssey Teen Camp, but more importantly forging an indelible relationship with Adam Simon. In June 2009, Matt graduated from Darrow School and who sat in the audience witnessing this success but Adam, who had made the trip, with his dog, to this small boutique boarding school to be there for Matt. Needless to say, Odyssey Teen Camp has been the catalyst for Matt to take hold of himself in a bold and confident way, thus being instrumental in his taking charge of his life.

Since that time, Matt has continued to actively participate in Adam’s pearl, becoming a camp counselor and assisting Adam in a variety of projects and creative endeavors. Truly, Odyssey Teen Camp and Adam Simon were life-altering phenomenons that have priceless value. Thank you Adam for all that you’ve done and continue to do to change the lives of our youth. You are a gift!

Janeen and Michael”

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 way for shy or anxious teens to test the waters and meet the community. Watch the video to find out more.

Find out about Odyssey Teen Camp

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

×

Book a call w/ the Director