“Giving Our Teens a Life-Changing Experience” by Leah Moore
When I think of teen camp, I think of a life-changing experience that truly shaped who I am as a person and provided me with tools to be who I am in the world and lifelong friends. I became an advisor for Oneness’s teen group at 19, with the sole purpose of ensuring that more teens have the same incredible experience I did. Teens deserve to be shown love by their peers, to be listened to and validated by adults who aren’t their parents, and to be provided with tools and principles through the Science of Mind to shape how they show up in the world.
Currently, for the teens in our teen group– a group of brilliant, funny, kind, talented kids– camp is only an idea. Camp is in the mountains in southern California, so in addition to the price of camp itself, our cost doubles when we add airfare. We fund raise each year, and we’ve done everything from car washes, to soup sales after service, to amazing events that include dinner and a talent show by and for our congregation: what you’ll recognize as this year’s Celebration of Joy. And of course, our fund raising helps, but getting 4 teens and an adult to camp means we’re spending almost 4 thousand dollars on airfare alone. While our congregation is truly generous, even with their donations that cost can be a burden on the parents of our teens, and we don’t want our teens to miss out on all the other wonderful activities they’re involved in—sports, theater, dance—because they chose to have this incredible experience too.
One of the absolute best things about our teen group is the growth we’ve seen them experience. I’ve seen a shy, quiet group of teens turn into a cohesive, loving, laughter-filled group of friends. An overnight with some other local CSL centers’ teen groups made a huge difference in the way they look at teen group—and the fact that they want to take this leap, travel across the country, meet new people and have this new experience is mind-blowing when I think about where we started.
Teen group at Oneness has been through a lot of change from when I was in the inaugural group as a 13-year-old in 2005. We’ve seen swells and drops in membership; teens who want to chat the whole time and some who barely say a word; parents who are involved and want to be advisors and those who aren’t sure about the whole thing either. But when I think of how I felt after going to my first overnight, how excited I was about the idea of the exponential growth and joy that camp could possibly hold for me, I think about the teens in our group now: and I know that the experience of teen camp is something I need them to have.
Getting to go to camp means so much more than a fun experience: it means we’re helping to create the future we want, by putting children in a situation where they’re unconditionally loved and encouraged to be their true selves. We’re setting up our center with future community leaders who are grounded in principle and love themselves. We’re showing teens that instead of making choices that hurt them and those around them, that they can make choices that will create a world that works for everyone.
So, when I think of teen camp, I don’t only think about the friends that I got dirty feet with and ate camp food with and danced with at the end-of-camp dance. I don’t only think about the adults that helped me honor my goals and be love in the world. I think about the future I want to see for our community, our country, and the world: and I know that it starts with our youth. To donate and help our Teens go to camp, click here.
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