When I hit submit on my application for Youth of Canada’s OELC contest in January, I can’t say I knew exactly what I was signing up for. Let me explain. In my experience being involved with other youth organizations in the community, I only knew of OELC because of friends who spoke the world of the small camp in Longford Mills. I had seen their colourful sweaters, swiped through their photos, and watched their faces light up as they recounted their stories from the best summers of their lives. It was because of this that I knew, if my submission were selected, I would be in for an incredible leadership experience, but I came home with so much more than that.
During the one week I spent at OELC, not only did I meet the most incredible people, but I also dove head-first into an unfamiliar environment that changed the way I view the world for the better. The Secondary Athletics course I took part in focuses on developing students’ leadership skills through the medium of athletics. I have never defined myself as an athlete and, in the past, I have spent the majority of my time doing work in the arts and in leadership development. I felt intimidated in a sea of students whose "things" were sports - I was quickly introduced to some of the highest performing young athletes in Canada. Whether it was volleyball, rugby, or even jump rope, these people were the best at what they did, and it felt as though I didn't speak their language.