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.

The Link Between Technology & Social Anxiety: Why Face-to-Face Engagement is So Important

The Link Between Technology & Social Anxiety: Why Face-to-Face Engagement is So Important

 

In video 5 my 8 part discussion with Amy Frisch, a wonderful therapist who has been leading teenage girls groups for twenty years, she had some truly helpful things to say around social anxiety.

She talks about how stimulating technology can be and how we need to help our teens learn to quiet their central nervous system. I think we sometimes forget that we are human animals and that when it comes to fear and anxiety our reactions are often not much different than other animals.

My takeaway

My favorite takeaway from this short video is when Amy says that today teens consider “hanging out” what they do on Skype or Snapchat. They don’t call each other on the phone and say “come over to my house, hang out, no one’s home.”

I imagine with so much of our communicating being done through our phone, the idea of sitting face to face feels like too much. Too much pressure, too much stress, and maybe even too much intimacy.

“Consciously Parenting Teens” Video Series

I hope you enjoy the video above. If you haven’t opted in to see the full 8 part series, I do encourage you to see it. Amy has a really unique way of presenting ideas. Here’s the form to subscribe.

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An invitation

I would love to continue this discussion with you in the comments below. If  you feel inspired to share your stories or insights, I would love to hear them.

Why is It So Hard For Teenagers to Feel Good About Their Appearance and How Parents Can Help?

Why is It So Hard For Teenagers to Feel Good About Their Appearance and How Parents Can Help?

 

In this video Lauren Muriello, LPC of Well Being Therapy Center discusses why it can be so difficult for teenagers to feel o.k. about their physical appearance. She points out the illusions society continually feeds us regarding what people should look like, and reminds us how important it is for parents to help their children understand what’s real and what’s not real.

Look in your own life. Who are the real people in your life? … Your parents, your grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings, teachers, friends. This is what real people look like.

 

Teenagers, will always be comparing themselves to others to see how they measure up, but by getting them to think differently about who they are comparing themselves to, maybe we have a chance to help have a more realistic assessment about what people look like, and ultimately help them feel a little better about their own physical being” – Lauren Muriello

Realistic self assessment in adolescents

I love her advice to tell our kids that if they have to compare themselves to anyone, they should choose real people in their lives rather than compare themselves to people they see in the movies or advertisements.

Lauren also stresses the importance for parents to try to deemphasize physical appearance and reemphasize our children’s talents and who they are on the inside. Help them spend more time doing things they enjoy, rather than staring in the mirror picking themselves apart.

I don’t know why it is so hard for anyone, particularly teenage girls, to feel o.k. about their appearance, but we know that advertising companies are not going to help, and Lauren has some practical advice to help parents help their teenagers to give themselves a break when judging their  appearance.

The impact on girls

Today teenage girls are being taught that they can be anything they want. Studies show that today girls feel more empowered to be anything they want more than ever before and they are seizing opportunities closed to previous generations .

They believe they have equal opportunities at school to be leaders, top students, get the jobs they want, etc. but, (and this is a very big but), somehow they are still getting the message that what they look like matters more than anything else they might do. This message is not unique to the U.S.

In an article written by Claire Cain Miller and published in the N.Y. Times on 9/14/18, Miller sites a new nationally representative poll of 1,000 children and adolescents age girls 14 to 19, that showed that while girls feel equal to boys in just about every way, it’s not true when it comes to their bodies.

Three-quarters of those polled felt judged as a sexual object and unsafe as a girl. By far, they felt that society considered physical attractiveness to be the most important physical trait for a girl. It should be noted that surveys have found that not just teenage girls, but adult women also feel the same way.

Deborah Tolman, a psychology professor at the City University of New York who researches adolescent sexuality, said …

This is the contradiction we put in front of girls: You should be confident, and do well in school and do athletics, but your supposed to also be a good sex object at the same time. -Deborah TolmanClick To Tweet

What about boys?

I don’t think boys get a free ride when it comes to their bodies and physical appearance. Teenage boys feel pressure to have the “perfect body,” which is to be both lean and have large muscles.

The number of teen males dissatisfied with their bodies has tripled in the past 25 years and men now account for 1 in 4 eating disorders , 95% of which begin in adolescence.

So, I think everything that Lauren recommends parents do to help their teenage children goes for boys as well as girls.

“Parenting and Digital Technology” Video Series

I do hope you get a chance to watch the video above and opt-in for the whole series. I think there are some some good takeaways sprinkled throughout. If you missed the opt-in form at the end of the video, here it is again.

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Teen Smart-Phone Usage as a Privilege, Not a Right: Establishing Sensible Restrictions

Teen Smart-Phone Usage as a Privilege, Not a Right: Establishing Sensible Restrictions

 

One thing that becomes very clear when listening to Lauren Muriello, LPC of Well Being Therapy Center talk about the use of technology, is the importance for parents to be very clear with their teens about their rules for cell phone use.

There is no vagueness in what she has to say. You set rules for your child before you give them a phone and then if your teen breaks those rules there are reasonable consequences.

It makes sense, but I imagine plenty of parents are not completely clear with their child about exactly what they expect from them before they give them a phone. This makes it more difficult to take it away when your child does something irresponsible.

Consequences need to be short. We need to give our teenagers the understanding that they did something wrong and the behavior needs to improve, but then we need to give them a chance to do it right. -Lauren Murriello Click To Tweet

How long should you take your child’s phone away as a consequence?

Teenagers may think they can’t live without their cell phones, but I can tell you from experience that they can not only live without them, but that there are plenty of benefits from them being away from their  phones for a while, including the chance to focus on schoolwork, talk to the people next to them, and even relax in ways they may not have in a long time.

Lauren says we should not take away a teen’s phone for months. She thinks that would be excessive. The goal of taking away your teen’s phone, for a day or two is to give them a chance to do it right, to be responsible.

Consequences versus punishment

I think this is the real takeaway. The end game is to teach, but we need to give our kids the space to get it right, to do it again and make better decisions.

This is how we can help build self esteem and closer relationships through disciplining our kids. The discipline is not punitive. The consequences are logical and they are reasonable.

When we lay down consequences as parents, we need to keep site of the higher intention, which is to teach our kids, not only to respect the rules, but that they have the power to get it right. This is very different than a punishment made out of anger.

If you’re interested learning more about the difference between punishment and consequences, you might find this article helpful on empoweringparents.com

“Parenting and Digital Technology” Video Series

I do hope you get a chance to watch the video above and opt-in for the whole series. I think there are some some good takeaways sprinkled throughout. If you missed the opt-in form at the end of the video, here it is again.

Enter your email to see the entire 9 part video series with Lauren Muriello, LPC

One short segment will be delivered to your inbox each day for 9 days. Occasional notifications for new videos will follow. Your info is sacred and will never be shared.

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How Anxiety Can Help Teens Practice For Life Challenges

How Anxiety Can Help Teens Practice For Life Challenges


Getting to the other side of anxiety

In this short video Lauren Muriello, LPC of Well Being Therapy Center talks about how we all experience anxiety and that it is a natural, healthy part of the human condition. This reminds me of I a quote I saw recently that read … 

'The presence of anxiety is unavoidable, but the prison of anxiety is optional.' - Max LucadoClick To Tweet

Using fear as a tool

Lauren makes a great point about the importance for parents to try not to shield their teen from the things that might trigger their anxiety, but to let them feel worried and anxious, and to help them “get on the other side of it.” Anxiety is just an emotion like any other. We don’t have to get anxious about feeling anxious.

She discusses the importance for parents to encourage their children not to avoid the things that frighten them. The more we avoid things that make us anxious the more things we find to become anxious about. Avoiding certain things may help us feel less anxious now, but in the long run, that avoidance can make our lives smaller.

Are you contributing to your teen’s anxiety?

Lauren suggests that the higher expectations we may be putting on our children today can add to their stress and anxiety. She reminds us that there is a good chance that the grade our kids get on their AP Biology class will probably not have a very high correlation to the happiness they will experience.

I know that it is very easy as parents to project their own wants and maybe even unfulfilled dreams on to our children. Sometimes it can be a challenge  NOT to pass on our own worries and fears as well, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to relax more and help our teenagers do the same.

“Parenting and Digital Technology” Video Series

I do hope you get a chance to watch the video above and opt-in for the whole series. I think there are some some good takeaways sprinkled throughout. If you missed the opt-in form at the end of the video, here it is again.

Enter your email to see the entire 9 part video series with Lauren Muriello, LPC

One short segment will be delivered to your inbox each day for 9 days. Occasional notifications for new videos will follow. Your info is sacred and will never be shared.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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