Being a teenager is an exciting, difficult, and sometimes confusing time of life. It is a time of exploration; of learning all sorts of new things that you never knew existed; of discovery and learning; and of taking the next step in finding out who we are. Sometimes it can feel like it is all coming at you really fast. Other times it can feel like becoming an adult is forever away. At STEAM we believe that adolescence is something to be celebrated – that it is an important time of life that should get all of the support, acknowledgment and credence that we can give it. Especially in those early teenage years, from ages 12-16, young people are starting to reach out, beyond their families and the familiar things of their childhood, to their larger community and their peer group. They are starting to have big thoughts about the world. They are able to think more abstractly and use language and cognitive skills that they haven’t been able to access before. And, they are starting to be the adult beings that are emerging in them. At the same time that they are becoming so open to new things, they are also becoming closed to other things – every parent of a teenager could attest to the way that teenagers look like they are shutting-out the things that they have been open to in the past, including their families!
One mission of STEAM is to truly value what the young people who are part of the camp feel is important. Often, this is their peer group and making connections with the people they are around every day, but it is also so much more than that. A big part of it, often, is being able to decide, for themselves, what is important to them. Camp is structured in a way to allow for this organic, creative element to help guide what we do. We have a plan, activities, projects and a general direction, but little of that is as sacred to what we do as what arises from the individuals and the group that is at camp at a given time.