I Want To Be Weird Like You
I was an angsty 13-year-old when I showed up for Omega Teen Camp. Middle school had been really hard for me. But things were different at camp. Although it may sound shallow, for the first time in my life I felt popular. I felt like I had a huge group of people who loved to be around me just as much as I loved to be around them.
It was fun to see the way that the older kids would act, and say to myself, “I think that's cool,” or “I think that's not cool.” I was figuring out who I wanted to be when I was at OTC—what kind of lifestyle I wanted to lead and what kind of lifestyles I wanted to avoid.
One of the things I loved the most was that the counselors were so weird and warm and delightful. They were so comfortable with themselves that it inspired me to be comfortable with myself. I was like, “That's awesome. I want to be weird like you!”
I became a super crunchy-granola vegetarian at OTC. I learned what kale was, and it’s now my favorite food. I dyed my hair pink, because it was a such a fun expression of how I was feeling. Camp empowered me to be different.
I loved Omega Teen Camp so much that I went back for three more summers. I couldn’t wait to see my friends again. I also had my first boyfriend at camp, and I was so excited about that. We were together for two years.
My Favorite Activities
I was exposed to a lot of different activities at OTC. I loved the Thai massage classes. But my favorite thing to do was lie in the field in the middle of the day when it was really hot and the sky was totally clear and there were dragonflies flying around and people playing games. One day, we spent an hour in the field laughing hysterically for no reason, like we were a bottle of champagne that burst open but had no bottom.
A lot of the kids who go to OTC have internalized depression and angst. Then suddenly you’re at camp and you’re like, “Wow, everything is really great.” When you’re surrounded by so much love, you realize that such a large degree of your misery is mental. You create it. There are people at camp who will hug you when you need a hug, and who will leave you alone if you want to be left alone.
My Biggest Lesson
When you're a teenager, it's so easy to dislike people. I remember very vividly, there was this one girl who was bothering me at camp. But when I was sitting in a guided meditation one day, I suddenly realized, “Hey, just be compassionate toward her. Sure, she can be frustrating sometimes, but she's just doing her thing and you can just send some love and light in her direction.” That was a really big turning point for me.
It led me to a more nonjudgmental space than I had been in for much of my life. I'm still working to become a more compassionate, nonjudgmental person, but I think that the seeds were planted while I was at OTC. Being there brought a level of awareness to the love and the warmth that can exist between people, in a way that I wouldn't have found if I had never gone to camp.
I tell all of my family and friends who have kids, “Send your kids to Omega Teen Camp. It will make your life as the parent of a teenager so much easier.” I'm going back as a camp counselor this summer and I'm really excited.
© Omega Institute for Holistic Studies