Girl dressed as a mermaid being carried by another camper on stage

When I was thinking about starting a camp for teenagers, my vision was to create a fun and safe environment in an atmosphere of love and inclusivity. I wanted our camp to give teenagers an experience very different from the negative judgments, and sometimes even bullying, they might be dealing with at school.

It’s always upsetting to hear stories from parents about their children being bullied. While studies show that the rate of bullying with teenagers has actually not gone up in the past ten years, I’m pretty sure it is more pervasive due to the enormous reach of social media.

What can we do to help teenagers maintain their self esteem and emotional well being when dealing with bullies? How can we help them create strong internal boundaries, so they don’t care all that much about what other kids are saying?

I know it’s asking a lot of a teenager to not take things personally. It’s not easy as an adult. One way I think our camp helps is by helping teenagers get to feel what it is like to be seen, respected, and honored by their peers. I hope by being treated with love and kindness, teenagers can recognize that there is nothing “wrong” with them, and they are great just the way they are.

I think a lot of it is about acceptance. Once teenagers feel safe enough to be vulnerable and share more of who they are, and receive acceptance, rather than ridicule, they can create strong healthy boundaries.

My hope is that when teenagers leave camp and occasionally have to deal with peers who do or say something hurtful, they can remember what it felt like to be loved and respected at camp, and feel a lot less vulnerable to other peoples negativity.

That’s why I started this camp.