Greenscape Design & Decor feels strongly about giving back to our community. This month, we chose to support OUTdoors! Camp, which is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping LGBTQ youth develop leadership skills, work in collaborative ways and develop a strong sense of self and community. To do this, we sent our Principal, Corinne Kessel, down to Prescott, Arizona, to be a cabin counselor amongst 250 LGBTQ youth, volunteers and community leaders.
Over the Labour Day weekend, I had the extreme privilege of being a cabin counselor at OUTdoors! Camp in Prescott, Arizona. What an inspiring, humbling, and intense journey. I went there wondering what I might teach the youth, not realizing how I would be the one doing so much learning! From being taught to give snaps, not to throw shade, practice one diva, one mic, to discovering a passion for yellow, it was an amazing and empowering experience.
Camp was all about celebrating differences and embracing the highest levels of unconditional love, respect, dignity, kindness, trust, strength, self-expression, inclusion and honesty. It was a safe place, where everyone was validated and everyone had the opportunity to make a meaningful difference to someone else. This culture, I was somewhat prepared for. However, as a subdued ice queen from Canada who has an almost exclusively black wardrobe and a slight addiction to being connected to cyberspace, being thrown into the YELLOW cabin with the most impossibly high-energy co-cabin counselor (that's you Shane), 8 incredibly different and exuberant teenagers, an endless barrage of sharing games and NO CELL PHONE, this was definitely outside my preferred comfort zone!
That said, I wish I were still there.
I was pre-warned about the cell phone prohibition and the possibility of teens, but I certainly did not expect to be wearing a bee costume and bawling my eyes out on the final day in a massive 250-person group hug. My Yellow Cabin-mates were like-minded fun-seekers that bonded instantly, loved late night dance parties (much to the chagrin of the Camp Rangers) and together we found the fun in everything. We also shared our bright yellow hearts out and thoughts, stories, and feelings were expressed that had never been told before.
Words do not do justice to this deeply rewarding and life-changing experience. To watch youth blossom with purpose, passion, confidence and courage and to witness them discover their inner strength was so powerful and changed my perception of myself and what is possible.
Since my time at camp, I am challenging myself to find new ways to grow, to be authentic, to become a better leader, add more colour to my life and to BEE myself!