Connor Brown

Teen Family Camp really changed my life. It helped me find my true identity. At my old school I was bullied and made fun of for who I truly was. When I started my new school, I created this persona and posed as someone I really wasn’t in order to be accepted. TFC showed me that I can be myself, people will like me for me, and will really want to be friends with me. I didn’t have to act like a different person anymore. I could be the real authentic me.

It also gave me incredible relationships. I have so many classmates from Teen Family Camp that I can claim as friends, because you create a bond within your class that really can’t be created in the outside world. I personally walked away from TFC with three best friends that I know I can call whenever I’m in trouble, and I can trust them to respond when I need them. The training really improved the high school experience I was having.

Teen Family Camp really helped my relationship with my parents because it strengthened the bond that we already had. Because of the training, I finally feel like I can come to them openly about the problems that I face on a day-to-day basis and be 100% honest about everything that I do. I can approach them with any of the problems that I have and trust that they will be a safe haven for me, instead of fearing the judgment that they used to show. I have confidence that they will create a safe space where I can share anything with them now, instead of shutting me down, shaming me, or shunning me because I disappointed them. Pathways helped me become vulnerable with my parents. They know every deep, dark secret that has happened to me and, honestly, I’m so grateful for that because I wouldn’t have such an unbelievably strong bond with them otherwise.

Teen Family Camp even changed our family dynamic for the better. My parents are divorced, and at the time that we attended the training my mom was separated from my stepdad, too. When we arrived home from TFC my mom and my stepdad worked things out between them and she began to communicate with my father and stepfather in a healthy way. Pathways gave me the courage to open up to my stepbrothers, stepdad, brother, and father as well, letting them know how I felt without being hurtful about it. The training also changed the way that we have fun together, because now “having fun” means we can drop our masks and our agendas and just enjoy each other. There isn’t any pressure that we have to plan out a certain activity and that we must enjoy ourselves. We’re having fun because we are legitimately having fun being together, no matter what we are doing.

My mom and I were already close, but TFC took our bond to such a higher level – my mom and I are so connected now, it’s amazing. I put more trust in her, and in return she gave more trust to me. Even though my dad, my stepdad, and my brother didn’t go to Pathways, my relationships with each of them got instantly better also, because now I know how to communicate with them effectively. They all saw a change in me. I remember my brother saying to me, “I can tell that you’ve changed from the Pathways stuff. You are such a happier person.” Well, it’s true – I now have a concept of what happiness looks like for me, and I have a genuine love of who I am. I love myself.