Refuse to Doubt Your Own Voice

Editor’s note: This week’s blog post comes to you courtesy of Anna, a camper at YPI 2013.

This summer at YPI we were told to “find our own voices and use them to help others find theirs”. I understood what it meant to find my voice, but I didn’t initially understand how I could help others find their own voices. At YPI, we live in an environment for two weeks where mutual respect for others and their work is the norm. In such a supportive and encouraging place, we often don’t like to remember that outside our little world, there are those who don’t know what their voices are good for, if anything.

As every summer draws to a close, I always leave camp in the YPI state of mind. I expect it to help carry me through the year but in reality, school, work, and issues that arise can make it hard to stay in the mindset.

However, I am going into this upcoming year with a fresh perspective on what the YPI “state of mind” is. After reflecting on the guidance we received this summer to “find our voices and use them to help others find theirs”, I have realized that this advice applies to living with the YPI state of mind year-round. YPI does not teach us to find our voice for only two weeks a year; it shows us how strong each of our voices is individually and how they are even stronger when together.

YPI Summer Camp 2013
“Even over what felt like two short weeks this summer, I learned new things about myself and my capabilities.”
-Anna, camper

This year the counselors and teachers led the way in showing us the truth in this by stepping out of their comfort zones. At staff open mic, visual artists sang; singers read poetry; they all took risks themselves to show us as campers that it was not only okay, but encouraged for us to do the same. As I expected, campers followed suit by experimenting with other forms of expression that the camp would otherwise never have seen.

This year, the adults at YPI collectively used their voices to tell the campers, “It’s okay to step out of your comfort zone.”

By doing so, they showed us our voices and proved that risks were okay. Every year has its ups and downs, including stress, frustrations, and disappointments, but I urge everyone to remember that even away from YPI, no one can take away your voice and the power it holds.

Three years ago, I stumbled into YPI, not knowing the effects it would have on me. I met people here who taught me that everyone has a gift to share with others. I am lucky to return to YPI every summer and see how my voice has developed. Even over what felt like two short weeks this summer, I learned new things about myself and my capabilities. The YPI “state of mind” is not just about counting down the days until next summer, but refusing to doubt your own voice and the ways it can help others and the world.

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