Choosing Their Own Adventure
In the world of teen development, there’s a lot of buzz around activities with many kids juggling music lessons, homework, SAT prep, social events, sports, and more. But the flurry of school-year activities often comes to a stall in the summer. Teen schedules can shift from go-go-go to "teen summer limbo," a place with endless free time.
What's a teen to do? Experts say teen choices revolve around exploring and pushing limits. They actually help teenagers prepare to live in the world on their own. At Omega Teen Camp (OTC), teens can explore making their own choices through an array of activities that push them beyond their regular schedule and usual options.
One of Haley Vallone’s favorite activities at OTC was a hiking-and-nature intensive. Vallone, who has been a regular at OTC for three years, said it was less about the hiking and more about identifying plants, creating water color paintings, and trying a partner exercise to build trust while walking in the woods.
“I normally take really weird daily classes with funny names like ‘monster making’ or ‘potion making,’” Vallone said. “I'm a super artsy person and I normally don't do hiking classes, but one week I decided to go out of my comfort zone," she said.
The trip was not only fun but also helped cure her aversion to bugs.
It’s hard to find a typical kind of day at OTC. Although the schedule is set, teens get to choose from more than 50 activities daily—from traditional summer camp activities like swimming and basketball, to activities that encourage self-confidence and creativity.
OTC also offers valuable downtime for bonding. Camp director, Adam Simon, says some of the best times at camp are had during “pod time,” when cabin mates and teens in the same age group and gender spend time together, and “community chill time” when the whole camp spends time together.
Simon says that ultimately OTC is a place where teens get “to be honored for who they are in a loving, nonjudgmental place. They find new parts of themselves and also make lifelong friends."
Former Camper Gives Back
Former camper-turned-counselor Jake Price created a DJ-ing class at camp, where he showed campers how to use live DJ software. They all got a chance to mix songs and get hands-on experience on laptops. He said it felt great to design the class and “give back to the camp what it did for me.”
“My advice to any prospective campers (or their parents) is that OTC is a camp for everyone,” Price said. “I've seen the most closed-off people just let the stress off and really connect with everybody. There's so much to do, and, speaking as a past camper, I've made friends that I'll have forever.”
Watch more teens talk about their experience at OTC.
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