A 14-Year Old Finds Compassion for Her Parents Through a Buddhism Workshop at Teen Camp

Shira smiles peacefully in with hands folded looking up at the ceiling while lying in her bed

This next story comes from Shira. She talks about how her camp experience helped her find a new way of living she had only dreamed was possible.

Shira’s story

“Someone the other day asked me what the correlation between who I am, who I want to be, and who I think I should be was. And I could confidently answer that they were all aligned. I am, in many ways, the person I always dreamed I would be. I can proudly say that I would not be this person if I had not gone to Odyssey Teen Camp.

OTC provided a container for me to heal myself. I was able to explore who I am, and at OTC, I was given the tools to learn how to do that safely. OTC has been so influential in my life that I actually wrote my college admissions essay about my experiences there, and I continue to reference OTC in programs and scholarships that I apply for. A story I fondly reference is when I took a workshop offered by one of the counselors at camp called “The Phat Buddha.” The workshop gave campers a peek into a Buddhist’s life and explained Buddhism’s basic tenets. I still have my journal from that workshop and reference those notes often. After leaving camp that summer, I bought a couple of the books the counselor recommended. That workshop planted seeds in my mind of the possibility of a new religion and way of life that I only dreamed of living.

I took that workshop when I was 14 years old… fast forward years later, and I am taking a Buddhist Studies course in college at the age of 19... I was already ahead of the class because of the workshop that I had taken, and at that point, Buddhism was all that I wanted to study and practice. I ended up studying abroad in monasteries in India, Nepal, and China, immersed in Buddhist studies and practice.

I currently identify as a Buddhist and have a lovely Sangha (community) that I practice with here in Los Angeles. I practice meditation every morning for at least 30 minutes, and my whole world has transformed since I began this journey at OTC. When people ask me what I love about Buddhism or what has changed for me since I became a Buddhist, I say two things: first, it has helped me to develop a deeper understanding of my parents as human beings, as people who suffer, and if I can’t find compassion for my parents then I can’t find compassion for anyone else; second, since I have become a Buddhist it feels like doors keep opening for me, one after the other.

This second realization I owe to OTC; since I became a camper at OTC, doors open one after the other. I believe this to be true because OTC helped me to cultivate a more open mind. It helped me to see that, as human beings, we could operate in more kind and loving ways. It showed me that I am enough and can do anything I set my mind to, but that things take time to grow. When I was 14 years old, I wanted to be the badass Buddhist I am today, but I first had to go through a ton of healing, processing, and growth fueled by sunshine, rain, mud, and muck. At times, I doubted that I would ever be where I am today, but I stuck through it all, and not alone, OTC also gave me a sustainable support system and friends who I still look to for guidance today.”

Sound Interesting?

Find out about the unique summer camp activities offered at Odyssey Teen Camp.

Odyssey Teen Camp Logo

Odyssey Teen Camp

Odyssey Teen Camp, located in the Berkshires, is a safe summer space for teens to be themselves. Our campers experience the pure exhilaration that comes from being included, honored, and celebrated for exactly who they are. They leave OTC instilled with the confidence to reimagine their place in the world. And they will forever remain a part of the OTC family. OTC offers full summer programming for ages 13 through 18.
OTC Logo

Find Out About Odyssey Teen Camp

A Non-Profit Overnight Summer Camp For Teens Ages 13-18
Located in the Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts.