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Every year, we get returning campers who come to Odyssey Teen Camp for their second, third, fourth, or fifth year at camp. If you came to camp and loved it, returning might seems like a no-brainer. But what if most of the friends you made in the past aren’t going to be there?
This is Kaya’s story – when she decided to come back for her third year at camp, it was almost like coming to camp for the first time. She talks about a special tradition that put her at ease and helped her open up to a new set of people, even though she’d been coming to camp for years. Here is her story in her own words.
Last summer at Odyssey Teen Camp was one of the best I’ve ever had, and I’m so glad I decided to come back for a third summer. Earlier in the year, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to return. Most of my friends from years before had left after the last session, and I was reluctant to leave home for two weeks if I wouldn’t be seeing them.
I had one friend who was staying the whole session, but I didn’t want to monopolize her. As I started thinking about the type of community OTC is, I became much more hopeful about the summer. The people at Odyssey– staff and campers alike– are so kind and welcoming. Everyone works so hard to make sure that camp feels like home. As someone who can sometimes be slow to open up, that was extremely helpful and has always made my time at Odyssey so wonderful.
Despite all that, I was incredibly nervous when I got to my pod (housing) on the first day of the session. Again, I worried that I wouldn’t make any new friends or would be too shy to form any close relationships during the session. That first night, a bunch of us stayed in Olympus’s living room in a tradition we created called Midnight Tea. We drank tea (as the name suggests), exchanged stories, talked about our lives, and got to know each other. By the time I went to bed that night, I felt connected to everyone in Olympus, and I knew that the next two weeks wouldn’t be lonely at all.
Midnight Tea continued to happen almost every night, and soon a group of us started pulling our mattresses out to the living room at night to have sleepovers. Through those nights spent talking, laughing, and eating snacks, we formed an extremely close friendship that continues today. Having the security of a core group of friends gave me the confidence to branch out and talk to new people, forming even more great relationships.
By the time camp ended, I had so many people I liked hanging out with and trusted; leaving camp felt like leaving home. The beautiful thing about OTC is that it provides a virtually stress-free environment where everyone is encouraged to have fun, try new things and form new relationships. Unfortunately, that’s rare outside of camp.
As the school year progresses and college application season closes, I miss the freedom I felt at camp. The freedom to try new things, to be me, and to interact with people I probably wouldn’t have spoken to (or even met) at home. I think every teenager should be able to experience that kind of freedom, and the best place to do that for me is at Odyssey Teen Camp.”
A big thank you to Kaya for sharing. This warmed our hearts!
Jump to the video at the bottom of this page…
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A Non-Profit Overnight Summer Camp For Teens Ages 13-18Located in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts.