A Camp Where Introverts Can Thrive
Once an "awkward, shy, and quiet teen," Ian Vallone explains how he evolved from a timid 13-year-old camper to a confident camp counselor—and a physics major at Rutgers University.
When I was approaching seventh grade, I realized I was an introvert. That summer, Omega Teen Camp (OTC) helped me find the social and outgoing part of myself and embrace it.
OTC is a warm, open, and welcoming place. That made it really easy for me to just go up to someone and say, “Hi.” There's no reason for pretense. There are no charades—you meet other campers and counselors and they’re not afraid to be exactly who they are. Some of my closest friends, to this day, are people I met at camp.
I went to camp for five years in a row, with the purpose of becoming a more social person. I became more outgoing at camp, and I was able to take that out into the world. I’m studying physics at Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences now, and it isn't hard for me to approach my peers, professors, or T.A.s, like it is for some college students. I think that’s because of the social skills I developed at camp.
Why I Kept Going Back to Camp
At OTC, you don't have your phone or laptop; there's no work to distract you; and you don’t have to worry about your GPA. You can just go outside and play games or hang out with your friends. Or you can sit down and meditate for two hours in the middle of the woods. I never would have discovered my love for yoga or meditation if I hadn't been to camp.
I returned year after year because it helped me ground myself and reset.
My Biggest Self-Discovery
At OTC, I realized that I love having intimate discussions. Camp facilitates and encourages authentic and deep communication, and soon it becomes a normal thing for campers and counselors. That’s not something that you find very often out in the real world—especially as a guy.
Whenever I go home, I find myself having more intimate conversations with people in my everyday life—I’m able to talk to them on a deeper level.
My Favorite Activities at OTC
I love a lot of the activities at camp, from arts and crafts to kayaking to yoga and meditation. There are so many choices, which for me is much more interesting than being limited to one thing like at a dance camp or sports camp.
Why I Become a Counselor
When I was a camper, my counselors helped me out during my difficult teen years. They were all really cool people who seemed to have it pulled together. Becoming a camp counselor is my chance to give back—to be that guy who has his life together and can help you out. I really want to be that guy for somebody.
© Omega Institute for Holistic Studies