“Cosmic Phoenix Rising” by Laura Milnor Iverson
I don’t know the story of that phoenix very well, but I think it’s about renewal, resurrection, transformation, strength, and all sorts of things that sound really good to me.
I started Odyssey Teen Camp about twenty years ago. The last ten years have been tough financially. The last few years I’ve been reaching into my savings to keep camp going, and I knew I could not keep doing that forever. For the past few years, I’ve been preparing myself for the possibility of having to let camp go. Although whenever I tried to think about doing something else, nothing I came up with ever felt as important to me as keeping Odyssey Teen Camp alive.
When COVID came to town and we could not open last year, we were probably one of the few camps that did better financially by not opening (we just lost less than usual). We became a 501c3 nonprofit camp last year hoping we could raise some money to give us a fighting chance.
This past year we raised about $90,000 from about three hundred individuals and a few foundations. When one Foundation called The Leonard Litz Foundation gave us a generous donation, I got the feeling OTC just might have a future. That donation gave us as much of an emotional lift as it did a financial one.
So, back to that phoenix and all those ashes. After averaging about 175 campers in recent summers, this summer we will have about 430 teenagers coming to OTC. It feels like after twenty years we have been discovered. I don’t know if it’s because of COVID or because we advertise ourselves as a good camp for teenagers who are gender non-conforming, and/or who might be on the shy side or who struggle with some anxiety? In any event, it is super exciting.
We will do what we always do to create the most open, loving, fun, unique, wacky, judgment-free community we can. Our intention is to help every teen to connect, laugh, play, feel good about themselves and be hopeful for their future. It won’t be easy, it never is, it probably wasn’t all that easy for that phoenix either. But it is great work and I know many of us feel blessed to be able to keep doing it.
A big thank you to everyone who has helped us in the past and who continues to support us as we move forward.
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…