By Danny Domingo (SuperCamp Graduate and QLN Intern)

Carisa was a quiet, introverted teen who never considered trying new things to be an option, never daring to venture outside her comfort zone. That was ten years ago prior to her attendance at SuperCamp, and a lot has changed since then.

Aunt Betty (my grandma), who had previously only sent one teen to SuperCamp, gave information on the program to Carisa’s mom, who in turn shared everything she knew with Carisa. Everything that she heard made her more excited to go, but she still was on the fence about it. She then found out that she didn’t have to go alone. Her brother and cousin would be attending with her and she wouldn’t have to be in a brand new place all by herself.

Carisa went expecting a typical summer camp, where people met, did fun activities, and did typical camp stuff. It was not what she expected. Right after she arrived with her brother and cousin, everything suddenly became loud. There was loud music, super energetic Team Leaders who were excited about everything, and activities that seemed to be a lot more “in your face” and people oriented. She wasn’t used to the louder, more hands-on and vocal environment. She was so introverted that even with family she didn’t talk much. It was pretty intimidating.

Throughout the course of the program, things got better. She was able to open up more and enjoy the experience. One thing that she noticed was helping was the counselors. All of them were very charismatic and kind, they knew how to communicate with kids and they helped her to gain more confidence in herself to step outside her comfort zone. During Outdoor Adventure Day, she was presented with activities she wasn’t as comfortable doing, but thanks to the counselors who helped her find self confidence she was able to do everything, even the activities that made her the most uncomfortable. “They [the counselors] talked me through it, they were very encouraging, and I ended up doing it.”  She was able to make more friends and develop relationships with more people she wouldn’t even think to talk to, some of whom she is still in contact with.

Using her newfound confidence, she became more driven, more willing to put herself out there to try new things. Before SuperCamp, she didn’t really do extracurriculars or anything new because she felt too shy and afraid of rejection, but now she wanted to try to do things she normally wouldn’t. Her school offered a program that had classes to help advance students in a chosen career (for her, becoming a sheriff)  that she had thought about doing but never gathered up enough confidence to try out. The following school year she went and tried out for the program, got accepted, and enjoyed it until she was unable to continue due to illness. Although she was disappointed that she could no longer pursue that career, it wasn’t the end of the world. She decided to pursue working with children, a passion that she already enjoyed.

Where is she now? Carisa is currently attending College of the Canyons, majoring in psychology with an emphasis on early childhood education, which is something that she has always been interested in. Right now, she is working at the Sunshine Learning Center preschool as an afterschool assistant, working with children in a classroom setting (something she thought she never would be able to do). “It [SuperCamp] really created a stepping stone for me to develop my confidence,” she recalls, “to work outside of my comfort zone in my schooling, my work, and my life.” She knows herself much better than before, knows how to communicate well, and knows that she can always improve.