Learning true confidence based on what’s really important at teen camp
It sometimes feels like there’s never been a harder time to be a young woman. In this story, Olivia shares how she got away from New York City, came to teen camp, and learned to define herself not based on her looks, but on what really matters. We’re so grateful that she decided to share her story, and hope you enjoy it!
What teen camp meant to Olivia
“Before I came to Odyssey Teen Camp, I was living in a trendy neighborhood in a borough of NYC, teaching dance and empowerment classes to teens. I taught about self love, positive thinking and confidence. Ironically, I was working very hard to lose 15 pounds so I could fit in with the dance troupe I was a part of. The girls I danced with were very talented and very thin, and my curvy self felt insecure. I spent a lot of time doing my hair and make up for photo shoots, video shoots and performances. I accepted the job at teen camp because it was a chance for me to do the empowerment program that I created and live in nature. I was getting sick of the NYC grind.
When I drove up the steep dirt road to get to camp, I knew I was not in New York City anymore. There were cabins, where I would live with another counselor and several teenagers for the next 6 weeks. The first thing I noticed was the lack of mirrors. I had been so used to being in front of a mirror as a dance teacher, and constantly putting on makeup for shows and photo shoots that it felt like a real shock to not see myself constantly. The first week was uncomfortable, but after that, I started to get comfortable with not looking perfect all the time. It felt good to wear some shorts and a backwards baseball cap and be recognized for my ideas and creativity, not my appearance. I spent my time in the art hut, dancing, singing, and having amazing conversations with campers. This is the type of environment that Odyssey Teen Camp fosters; acceptance, love and creative expression. It felt refreshing and authentic.
This time, when I taught my empowerment class that helped teens create an outward appearance that was aligned with their personality and vision for themselves, I felt so inspired. For the first time in a long time, I felt secure in an environment where I didn’t have to straighten my hair and wear makeup to feel good about myself, and I was able to authentically pass this on to the teens.
I feel so honored to be a witness to the transformation of so many teens. My program at teen camp was just one small part of their journey of transformation. Odyssey Teen Camp gives teenagers permission to truly be who they are and awaken the parts they have been hiding; and it gave me permission too.
Hope to see you this summer at teen camp!
Thanks so much for sharing your story, Olivia! Summer camp can be powerful for campers and counselors alike. The real magic of camp happens when young people get away from their fast paced lives and finally take a breath – in some cases for the first time. It doesn’t matter if you’re from New York City, or really anywhere on Earth. Odyssey Teen Camp can help you learn to love what you see in the mirror, and have the confidence to go and get the things you want from life.
Hope to see you this summer!
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, engage…