This blog post comes from one of our first-time counselors, Allie. While Allie had many years of camp experience, this was her first time at Odyssey Teen Camp—and as she describes, it totally changed her view of what camp could really be for campers and staff alike.
“At first, I didn’t know what to think. I was 22 years old, working at a summer camp that I had never been to before, with activities that I’ve never even heard of. Sure, I had plenty of camp experience, I grew up at camps, and worked at camps, and dreamed of having my own camp. I was a camp person. I had the same anxiety that I had every year starting camp. Would people like me? What if I forgot something? Would I make a good counselor? However, I quickly started to notice that everything was set up in a way that made me feel comfortable, and I think the best part was that it was unintentional. This camp is filled with good people, who have built a community of trust. They made me feel comfortable because they made it okay to NOT be comfortable. There was no pressure, there was no judgement, and there was no such thing as being “uncool.” This is a place where it became easy to say, “I just need a moment.”
Early in the summer, I was walking with one of my coleaders back up to the unit after a long day of canoeing, survival skills, archery, slacklining, and acro-yoga. I wanted to tell her something I noticed about how OTC had changed my outlook on life – about how I never really knew how big the little moments could be. However, I could tell her mind was busy with how exciting her day had been too. I began speaking anyway, “you know what I noticed…” She took a breath and said in the nicest way, “let’s just decompress for a moment.” We walked back in silence as the excitement of the day swirled in our minds. By the time we made it back to the cabin, I noticed that I had taken in another one of those little, big moments. In the silent walk under the stars at OTC I learned for the first time, at 22 years old, that it’s okay to just “take a moment.”
I remember dancing like a fool at one of the evening dances. I came to the realization that just days prior these people were total strangers, and now all of sudden I had my own jokes and memories with them and I am twirling around on the dance floor like I had just been set free for the first time. I recalled my adolescent years and wondered what I would have thought about this camp 7 years earlier. I decided I would have felt exactly the same. I would have thought that this camp was a place of respite, a place to grow, and a place to be me. It’s a place to see others, and to be seen. It’s a place where little moments are big moments. And in that little, big moment I noticed that regardless of age, background, and aspirations, we aren’t all that different, and yet we are in the best ways possible.
Now I’m back to the “real world,” and I still thank OTC for what it has taught me. Sure, blindfolded rock climbing, playing Magic: The Gathering, and learning how to draw were all awesome experiences. However, it was the little moments that changed me. The moment in between a pool party and a night hike, where I saw my camper make their first friend at camp. The moment between Gaga and an ice cream party, where I learned what vulnerability looks like (which by the way is beautiful). The moment between packing your sleeping bag and driving home after a summer that changed your life, where a camper hugs you and says, “you really helped me.” OTC is a place where the little moments, will rock. your. world. Let the little moments happen.”
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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…