Courage and Summer Camp

Here is another Google discovery. This post was written by former ITI participant/facilitator, Conlin Durbin. You may find his orignal post from 2013 here.


Have Fun written in chalk on sidewalk

Many people feel they are powerless to do anything effective with their lives. It takes courage to break out of the settled mold, but most find conformity more comfortable. This is why the opposite of courage in our society is not cowardice, it’s conformity.

What does this quote by a psychologist have to do with summer camp? Well, if that summer camp is Indiana Teen Institute, or ITI, quite a lot.


In high school I was a “student leader”, one of the officers in my Students Against Destructive Decisions club. Through my experience with this group, I discovered ITI. The camp, which runs for one week towards the end of July, is geared toward these student leaders. It taught useful skills for facilitating teams, problem solving, and personal development, all while remaining a great time. I participated in the camp the summer after my freshman year. Many people speak of life changing events, but I can tell you for sure that after one week of this camp I was never the same. Learning to lead is an incredible experience. Learning to follow is an invaluable one. After my first summer there, I decided to go back as a camp facilitator and so for the next three years, I spent 2 weeks furthering my personal development and teaching high schoolers and middle schoolers to do the same.


To me, the single most important lesson taught at this camp is not facilitation, but self-worth. The discovery of your self-worth is an incredible thing. It means understanding who you are, standing out, and taking charge. When you believe that what you say and do mean something, you start saying and doing more. This leads to courage, the kind that comes from not accepting conformity, the kind that means having a say.


Not everyone has this opportunity, but everyone can learn to appreciate themselves. Like every relationship, your relationship with yourself needs cultivation and love. Unlike every other relationship, you can’t leave the person you have a relationship with.


So love yourself. And when you do, you might be suprised at what you can do.