Daphne at home

It doesn’t matter where you’re from, teen camp will welcome you as family.

One of the most amazing things about our summer teen camp family is how welcoming it is to all people, regardless of whatever superficial differences threaten to stand in the way. Since we’re an hour from New York City, most of our teen campers are local here to NYC – but this story will share the beauty that comes from a community whose principles of kindness and inclusion are universal.

Here is a testimonial from Daphne, a brave young woman from the Philippines who traveled across the globe to register for teen camp and join us for a month of her life. Thanks for sharing, Daphne. We hope to see you soon!

What summer 2014 at Omega Teen Camp meant to me: Daphne Ladriere’s point of view

“To break it down, OTC was my first camp ever. And you’re thinking, “okay, but everyone goes to camp and there are so many good camps out there.” I would say this is true, but I came all the way from the Philippines to go to a camp in Holmes, New York, and I stayed for a month. My first time away from my family, over 8,000 miles away, for a month. At first I thought, “how will I survive this?”, not knowing anyone, and the home sickness? Well getting there was a bit scary, going to a place I’ve never been before, not knowing anyone and knowing that JFK airport was probably 5 times bigger than the airport in the Philippines. The counselors who were in charge of bringing me to the camp site were running around the airport, looking for a 15 year old teenage girl who somehow missed her plane getting there. After 2 hours of waiting and looking around for unfamiliar faces, a guy finally said “Daphne? Is that you?… oh thank god you’re okay. We’ve been expecting you.” It felt good to finally be found. And at the moment, I knew that I came to the right place.

airballWhen we arrived at the camp, I instantly loved the place! It was in the middle of nowhere really. The place was packed with trees, the roots were all over the walkways and you’d actually have to walk (for what it felt like) mountains (but not really) to get to your pod. It felt like home, here in the Philippines. The trees over your head instead of buildings, the smell of wet grass instead of pollution and smoke, the sound of birds waking you up in the morning instead of cars. First few days of camp was a mess, in a good way. I was meeting about a hundred people, trying to memorize everyone’s names, faces and first impressions. I would say that throughout the entire camp, I never really had a “clique,” and this is because everyone was friends with everyone, and I loved how the people there were like that. People came from different places, different backgrounds and different lifestyles, but everybody got along just fine. I wouldn’t have wanted a different group of people, because honestly, the one I had a Odyssey Teen Camp was the best, yet diverse group of people I have ever met.

Aside from the friends I met in OTC, the counselors actually helped a lot with the homesickness feelings. There was a moment during the 4 weeks I stayed that I was almost severely homesick and the counselors were helping me get through it through in many different ways. Meditation is a big factor in OTC and I learned how to meditate and calm myself whenever I was having raging emotions. We would do this every morning, and trust me, the aftermath feeling is just mind blowing. I was happier, smiling more often, feeling more alive and the homesick feeling was starting to fade, day by day.

Signing up for activities in OTC was quite difficult for it was a giant paper filled with things to choose from. Some days, it would be so hard to choose the activities because of how good it all seemed. They had different types of dancing, yoga and meditations, sports, arts and more! As an athlete, my intensives were usually sports, but since I already do basketball, soccer and volleyball at home already, I chose something I haven’t really done so much of before. I played a lot of Ultimate Frisbee. I met the friends that I really connected with, and the friends I stayed with the entire time I was in camp. Being with them felt like I was part of a small family with siblings that God forgot to give me. Because with them, I got to be myself and act the way I usually do when no one’s looking, because I was comfortable.

So despite all the obstacles getting there, the nervousness, the “not sure if anyone is gonna like me” feelings, I would say my stay at Teen Camp in the summer of 2014 was the best summer I’ve ever had. The obstacles and the happiness that happened made is seem so real yet unreal at the same time, like being in a dream. Those 4 great weeks went by too fast, and I guess that is why I plan to go back next summer, because I did not have enough of the people, the activities, the food and everything else! To whomever is reading this, a past camper at OTC, a new one, or someone who has never been here before, I suggest you to come next summer because there’s always room for more memories! OTC is a family community that will be there for you during camp days and all throughout the year. It’s a place to be yourself and have as much fun as your heart desires, because that’s all OTC wants, and that’s what OTC can offer you. Be part of the family. :)”

Find out about Odyssey Teen Camp

A great place for teens to be exactly who they are in a community that celebrates diversity.