A few years ago, during my school’s holiday break, I had a mental breakdown. I became incredibly depressed and anxious. I stopped going to school and would spend all day alone in my room watching Netflix or YouTube with all of the lights off. I only left my room to get food, use the bathroom or go to a doctors appointment that I was forced to attend. I was having daily panic attacks, and was frightened to leave the house. The thought of going to school or seeing my peers was so scary to me that I chose to leave in isolation instead. During this time, phone broke and I told my mom not to replace it. I also deleted my Instagram and Snapchat accounts. I was as isolated as possible. The only people I spoke to during this time where my mom, my grandma, my brother and my cat, plus occasional conversation with doctors and two friends of mine. Everyone else was out of my life. I didn’t talk to anyone else. The tens of friends I had prior to this were gone and the thought of seeing them terrified me. This lasted from December until August when I could no longer spend all day in bed. Because I was going to camp, Camp Olympia. I had been going for years prior so my mom had signed me up once again to go that summer. I argued with her, to let me stay home as I still didn’t want to leave my room, but she made me go. She thought that camp would be good for me. She was right. I arrived at camp as broken, insecure, incredibly anxious and depressed kid who had lost nearly everything. I lost more friends than I can tell you, I lost playing time on my basketball team due to missed practices, I failed the grade and I really lost the ability to be a normal, functioning person. I had spent eight months basically in isolation watching Netflix. And yet, as soon as I arrived at Olympia I felt things that I hadn’t felt in months. I felt comfortable, I felt accepted. I’m not saying that Olympia instantly cured me and instantly made me into the person I had been, I’m saying it made me feel comfortable. It made me feel accepted. I didn’t feel like an outsider or a loner like I did at home. I felt like a camper. A part of a community, a part of something much larger and greater than myself. And I felt liberated to do things that I had spent months being too scarred to do. I felt like I could once again be social. Not as much as I had been in years prior, but certainly more than I was back home. And through being social, I met some of the nicest and most kind people I know. I met people that I still talk to today, years later. I met people who I would truly consider friends. And most importantly, I met the person that I would genuinely say is my best friend in the world, outside of my family. And this friend not only made me have the best camp experience I could ask for, but she has become the best friend I could ask for. She is a large part of the reason that I’ve started to do better. That I was able to go back to school, and pass all of my classes the following year. She’s the reason I’m not happier than I’ve ever been and have managed to rebuild a better life than I ever had. That’s what Olympia did for me.
-Jacob, OSC Camper