How camp helped Heyden, 14, find her voice and her people
More than a typical summer camp, ME to WE’S Take Action Camp is a place for kids to discover their passions, build leadership skills and learn how to make a difference at home and abroad. We caught up with six-time camper Heyden, from Kitchener, Ontario—who first went to Take Action Camp at age nine—to find out what she loves about camp!
What is it about Take Action Camp that has kept you coming back for six summers?
The way it makes me feel—I know that at camp I can be myself and no one will judge me. Camp is where I feel my safest, because in the outside world, sometimes people can be very judgmental and there are terrible things going on, but at camp you can just focus on happiness. It’s such a positive environment. The food’s not bad either!
What’s your favourite camp meal?
The French Toast casserole—they’ve had it since the first time I came here and it’s my favourite food on the entire planet! Paula, the camp chef, is the best cook I know.
What’s it like being around other people who also feel the same way as you about the world?
It’s so empowering, because knowing that the people around you support you, understand what you’re going through and are willing to help you with it is such a satisfying thing. It makes you so much more confident in your ideas and how you share them—you know you’re not the only one that cares enough to do something about the issues going on in the world.
What’s been one of your favourite moments at camp?
We did this activity where people lined up in two rows, and you close your eyes and walk through them, and they’d whisper compliments to you. I think it’s so important to give compliments and positive reinforcements to people, because going through that line and hearing people say things like ‘You’re amazing! You inspire me! You’re gonna change the world’ pushed me so far; it gave me so much passion.
At Take Action Camp we talk a lot about ‘Camp Magic’—what does that phrase mean to you?
Camp Magic is the ability to open up to people on the first day, cry in front of people on the first day and feel safe in front of people on the first day. I know on the first day of school you keep to yourself, you keep to your small friend group, you’re very shy. But here it’s a free-for-all of people hanging out, making friends—it’s just that essence in the air, that kind of energy in the air that you can’t find anywhere else, that pure happiness and positivity.
What advice would you give to a first-time camper?
Let yourself open up, let your walls down. Because if you’re going to do it, this is the place to do it. Once you let your walls down it’s so much easier to let love in and let support in, and that’ll help you in all your endeavors.
Can you tell us about some of your camp action plans?
One year, my friends and I created a website and Instagram page with the theme of ‘that’s what makes you beautiful,’ because we had realized that we all had a little bit of self-esteem issues. We wanted to use social media as a positive outlet to encourage everyone to feel better about themselves and boost others’ self-esteem. I also want to write a children’s book about the issues in the world around us. I have a younger sister, and I want her to know the difference between right and wrong, and make sure all kids have a strong moral compass.
What’s next for Heyden? This year, she’s headed to Ecuador’s Amazon rainforest on a ME to WE Trip. We can’t wait to hear about all the incredible adventures she’ll have!
Registration is open for Take Action Camp 2016! Find out more and sign up at metowe.com/camp.
Questions? Contact us at [email protected] or call us toll-free at 1-877-638-6931 x 510.