- This summer, I held the role of a supervisor at an overnight camp in Chardon, Ohio, Camp Wise. In my position, I was responsible for 40 staff members and 100 campers, ages 7-10, for 7 weeks straight. I lived at the camp and worked on a leadership team with 13 other supervisors as well as 4 directors. Through this experience, I learned about myself and grew not only as a leader but as a person.
- Throughout the process of my work this summer, I learned a lot about myself. I was pushed in ways that I had not been before and I stepped out of my comfort zone. Most notably, I became comfortable as a leader and grew to understand the needs of others. As I was “in charge” of a group of 40 staff members, I found that appreciation and recognition went farther in terms of improving staff performance than any other method. I grew to truly recognize the importance of a simple “thank you”, and how it can truly affect the attitude, self-confidence, and performance of others. This also contributed to my positive relationships with each of my staff members. I believe that this will become beneficial to me as I continue to take on professional roles and work with others. Interpersonal relationships affect the workplace in any case and I now feel confident in better understanding what makes others feel confident and comfortable.
Additionally, the staff who worked at Camp Wise came from all over the world. With that being said, I was working with and supervising individuals from England, Ireland, Scotland, Israel, New Zealand, and Australia. I was also working with staff members of varying ages from 18-23. I am only 21, so in a sense I was supervising my peers. This was also difficult for me at first as I had to learn how to manage being a “boss” of friends. I learned that those of different ages and from different parts of the world respond to things differently, and how to adjust my management style accordingly. This job allowed me to learn to modify and adapt to fit the needs of my staff members, and this is a skill I will take into the professional world as well.
- This summer, I was faced with the great role of managing others and being responsible for the wellbeing of children. Part of my position was to oversee counselors of Camp Wise. I was a point person for questions that arose as far as scheduling, camper care issues, off periods for staff members throughout their days, and assigning counselors to roles within their “village”. One aspect of this management was in delegating tasks. This is something that I struggled with as I often feel that I need to do things on my own, or am unable to put trust in others. In working with such a variety of people, I was pushed to work as a team and put my faith in others to get things done. Therefor, this was an area of growth for me as I was able to delegate tasks such as passing out mail to cabins, giving out canteen each day, taking campers to morning, afternoon, dinner, and evening medicine call, and taking point on lost and found items. Rather than doing each of these things on my own, I successfully delegated the tasks to various staff members, allowing them a chance to have small leadership opportunities and responsibilities while easing the workload from myself.
Another aspect of leadership I experienced this summer was though programming. At Camp Wise, I was meant to ensure that all of my campers got safely to and from all of their daily activities as well as overseeing evening programming after dinner. I frequently was also given the task of creating rainy day programming for campers aging. Because weather can be unpredictable, this was often something I had to do on the fly. With all of these opportunities, I grew in my creativity, speed, and effectiveness of youth programming for a wide span of ages, something I am very proud of. Again, I was unable to program on my own. I often delegated the tasks to other staff members and therefor learned how much my modes of appreciation meant to them.
Part of my work at Camp Wise this summer included working with a team of other supervisors. I was assigned to a “village” of campers ages 7-10 while others were assigned age groups 11-12, 13-14, and 15 years old. We had to work together to ensure that all staff were actively taking care of their campers and providing positive experiences as well as fulfilling daily duties. These included tasks as I previously mentioned in reference to delegation. My role included constant communication to those assigned to oversee other age groups to monitor staff and campers. I had to build positive relationships and hold trust in those I was working with as none of us could have looked after all staff and campers on our own. Many of these individuals I had never worked with before or even met before. It took time for us to learn and understand each other and what worked best for each of us.
Additionally, it is important to me that with anything I do, I am able to connect with others and build meaningful, impactful relationships. While this is beneficial for networking purposes, it is more-so important for my wellbeing as I believe that positive relationships and a positive work environment will lead to desired outcomes and quality work and performance. I can attest first hand that this is true for myself. Because of this, it was important to be that I built strong relationships with fellow supervisors as well as the staff that I was overseeing and the campers I was interacting with while at Camp Wise. Based upon notes of appreciation, words of recognition, and verbal confirmation from those whom I was working with, I do feel that I achieved this goal and I feel comfortable and confident in the relationships that I built and connections I made with others.
- As spoken about in my proposal, I have had extensive experience helping others and working with children, however, I have never been in a leadership role in any of these cases. After this summer, that no longer holds true. This is especially important to me in terms of entering my senior year of college and preparing to enter the professional world. Currently, I am a student teacher with a class of my own, and I now feel comfortable in the role of leading students and other working professionals. I am able to take my knowledge from the summer and bring it back to my current duties as a student teacher.
My position this summer was challenging for me and allowed me to grow as an individual because I took on a role and had to learn to be a leader through experience. I was challenged by taking on a number of new responsibilities and working through them with trial and error. I advanced my communication skills as I delegated work to others, I learned to program for large groups of individuals of different ages, and learned the importance of showing appreciation for others. This directly correlates to my future as I am now in my final field placement before becoming a licensed teacher. In special education, I will be teaching students, but will also be working with paraprofessionals in my classroom. This summer taught me how to balance caring for others while also supervising those who are caring for others. I now feel confident that I will be able to lead my own classroom and build successful relationships with students and co-workers.