My Job Was My Summer Love


             I really just thought I’d be the coffee girl.Handing files to people, doing mechanical tasks and helping out around the camp whenever needed and at the service of everyone else.

            My experience as a Camp Coordinator in an Ontario private schools’ international ESL summer program was much more than I expected in every way.

            The first day of work I got a desk, a bedroom, a new Mac and a headache.

            I came in and all of a sudden my manager and I were calling places and booking trips and developing a calendar that went from wall-to-wall in our classroom-office. Kids were arriving from EVERYWHERE and it seemed like they were doing so ALL THE TIME. We had to accommodate their living, food, airport pick ups and drops offs, trips and make sure that all of them got to have the same experiences regardless of when they walked through the door.

             I worked 1-9 (really more like 12 to 1 until 9 to 10 to 11 to whenever things were done) in the evenings after she got everything up and running in the mornings. Essentially- I was left in charge of the camp. Not alone, but with my very own team of counsellors I was overseeing (imagine my surprise).

            All of this I realized as she ended the day telling me, “Okay so tomorrow, we’re briefing the staff.” It was an amazing staff. Everyone was so qualified, had degrees, had masters education or had experience. For me, this was a job on which to build my experience. My manager had done this the year before and was beyond capable, completing a myriad of tasks in the blink of an eye under stress. Honestly, a very healthy amount of stress.

             There are so many stories I cannot even begin to describe. It was a whole other world for these kids. They were in formal classes during the day and in the evenings they would go on two amazing trips. We canoed around the Toronto Islands at sunset and made bonfires, went on boat cruises filled with dancing after dark, to theme parks for days of roller coasters in the sun. I managed a Quebec Trip over three days touring through Ottawa, Quebec City and (you bet) Montreal. They went to the top of the CN tower and through the Niagara Falls. It gave me a new appreciation for the sights I’ve been seeing all my life.

            Much of it was office work. Papers, finances, filing, forms. But the best parts of it were interacting with the kids, forming relationships with my coworkers, playing laser tag and learning how to introduce myself in Mandarin, Russian, Korean, Japanese, Spanish and Italian.

            It was real work. Often ten-hour days five days a week. Often many different people from different departments (much more important than I) coming into my office and asking me for passports, bus schedules, graduation certificates, my peace of mind. People would call on the weekend bright and early to let me know that someone was leaving or going or they didn’t have any idea so what should they do?

            It was the kind of work that makes you love work and want work. It was the kind of job that I’ll probably write about many times over in more specific instances and I’ll continue to be able to tell the stories about.

            It was wild and wonderful and would I do it again? Ask me next summer.

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