It’s hard to put into words what Camp Quest means to me, and how it’s changed me as a person (it has changed me – there’s no doubt about that). I’ve been every year since it came to the UK in 2009, and now at 19 I’m more than proud to be a volunteer.
I suppose finding myself in an accepting environment with people like me was a huge change. Growing up I often struggled, like most children and teenagers, to fit in, but never did I feel more self-assured and open than when I was at Camp Quest. I love how, unlike any other event I’ve been part of, Camp Quest pushed me to question and learn topics that might often be considered “too complicated” for children to understand or even have views on. I was fed up with the idea that because I was 12 (or 13 or 14 – it goes on!) I wasn’t old enough to form my own opinion.
Questioning what I was taught was looked down upon elsewhere – but not at Camp Quest. And now I’ve reached the age where my opinions are given more weight, I’m actually able to reason and question, unlike so many people who were never given the platform when they were younger.
But whilst the discussions and the activities are great, what I find really defines Camp Quest is the people. I met one of my closest friends at Camp Quest, who I’m certain I will keep in touch with for the rest of my life. Before I met her, my writing had only been for myself. I soon found myself sharing my work with her; her encouragement drove me to write my first novel at 15 (a whopping 140,000 words). That level of motivation is practically alien to me, and I doubt I would have found it at any place other than Camp Quest. It somehow attracts clear-minded, kind, accepting people from all around the country. I felt no need to act like I was someone else or pretend I didn’t care about certain issues; for what was possibly the first time, all of me was accepted in a group setting. So for that I’d like to thank Camp Quest, and wish it a fortunate 2016!
Julia is studying Politics at University. She has written a Young Adult novel and dreams of being a writer. (We at Camp Quest would argue that she’s *already* a writer)