Because wellness should be for everybody
My fondest memory of sex ed in a classroom setting was, to put it simply, downright confusing. A middle-aged man, who was also the wrestling coach, uneducated on the diverse and inclusive understanding of sex, stood at the front of the room, preaching nonsense to a class full of naive 9th graders. We were never told what sex even was; rather, we were just told to never have it. Or you’ll definitely get pregnant or an STI and die, in the words of Coach Carr. So, I walked out of that room, both confused and, to be a bit dramatic, brainwashed. First off, how am I supposed to know not to have sex if I don’t intimately know the first thing about it? Secondly, was I really supposed to wait to do the thing until I get married to a man!? Did it have to be a man? I was 14, so I believed this, or at least struggled to deny it, for the next couple of years.
I didn’t scour the Internet for answers until three years later, where I finally realized that doing the thing with another woman was, in fact, a thing. Yet, there was no formal outlet for me to understand this; it was instead a compilation of binging queer television and Tumblr blogs to finally get a glimpse into queer sexuality and the thought of hey, that might just be me.
Finally, at my current age, I see the conversation being raised in mainstream platforms—maybe sex ed should be re-evaluated, maybe it should be more comprehensive, maybe it should include more than heterosexuality and the two-gender system. But where was this when I was growing up as a confused, closeted teen?
And that’s where we come in.
We understand that while the world of wellness may be beginning to be a bit more inclusive, it hasn’t fully touched the demographic that needs it desperately still—youth. That includes me, a junior in college who is part of a group that’s affected by anxiety and depression at a higher rate than most groups. That includes the seniors in high school who have no idea what they’ll be doing for the rest of their life (and that’s okay!). That includes the teens who didn’t get a comprehensive sex education through their schools, like me, and would like to be educated before they enter the scary gates of college and adulthood. That includes those denied or far from access to mental healthcare, especially young Black teens. That includes those isolated in food desserts without fresh produce to foster good health. That includes those struggling to find their identity in a new home as immigrant children. And many more.
And while some content is geared towards youth, it typically comes from a position of power—adults attempting to narrate the stories and needs of their younger counterparts as if they get it. Think about it, who writes most of the stories on your favorite teen & Gen Z-focused platforms? Adults, and often in a removed way. Yes, they lived it, but what about getting these stories from people who are currently living it? Here’s where we come in again—we want to write for youth by youth, as we think learning from your peers is one of the most powerful ways to learn. So, we put two and two together, and created... *drumroll, please*
Camp Thirlby, the virtual platform (or camp, which makes it all the more fun) geared towards high school to college-aged people of all genders, sexualities, backgrounds, and identities. We want to be the camp counselors you never had growing up; the people you wish to ask the things you could never talk to your parents about. Think of us as both your (educated, for once) health teacher, but also a warm hug that’ll soothe your anxieties away. You can tell us anything, and we’ll be there to help. From people your age that are also living it, too.
Do you have any topics or questions that you’ve been dying to learn about, or get advice on, that you’d like to see on Camp Thirlby? Or do you instead wish to be a counselor, aka a contributor, to teach your peers about a subject or experience you’ve been dying to write about? Send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Camp Thirlby” as the subject.
Natalie, Lead Camp Thirlby Counselor & The Thirlby Editorial Assistant