Tuesday, July 30, 2019

A Claw-some Summer with the Blacks Creek Crew

     This week was another fantastic week of programming! We spend Monday through Thursday morning at Blacks Creek, two afternoons at Curley Community Center, and one afternoon at Atlantic Wharf. My team did a terrific job with the programming, staying flexible to weather and scheduling changes.
Teaching our campers about green crabs and the classification of invasive species.
     One of the best parts of the camp that we work with is the variety of campers that we have. We have a total of four sessions: 9-10:30 Monday/Wednesday, 10:30-12:00 Monday/Wednesday, 9-10:30 Tuesday/Thursday, and 10:30-12:00 Tuesday/Thursday. Each camper has their own personality, but each session has also formed an identity that is distinct from the others. Our 10:30-12:00 Tuesday/Thursday group generally LOVES exploring the water. They have found the most horseshoe crabs and will often choose to stay in the water over playing a game. Conversely, our 9-10:30 Monday/Wednesday group is all about the games and while they enjoy the water they are always sad if going exploring in the water means ending a game.
Our campers exploring the water in search of minnows, shrimp, and crabs.
     Almost every day of the summer thus far, the team I work with has consisted of one college student LHE, Maggie, and three high school student JPAs, Aidan, Che, and Damani. It has been great to have a small group that spends so much time together, as we’ve really gotten to form a group dynamic and get to know one another. My JPAs get along great and are always a riot when they start to riff on each other. They love playing games and do a great job of striking a balance between playing with our campers and making sure that they are also having fun and feel engaged in what we do. Maggie is in a hard position, as she is the only LHE, and does a wonderful job of finding the balance of being a friend to all of us while also maintaining a position with authority. She is constantly willing to step up and lead camp if I ever need to take care of something, whether it be an upset kid or something administrative, and does a great job of “keeping it real” with our JPAs. Overall I think we make a great group and I am truly excited to see each of them every day.

Our Blacks Creek Team thus far this summer:
(L to R) Aidan, Damani, Che, and Maggie
     My favorite part of the summer has been watching and helping to guide the JPAs as they become more comfortable working with kids. They each have a lot of empathy and high energy with kids, which is an incredible place to start. However, there are some parts of teaching and keeping kids safe and positive that are not always intuitive. At the beginning of the summer, if a camper would minorly hurt themselves or be upset because they lost a game, our JPAs would spring into action, trying to do all they could to dote on the kid’s needs. However, as almost any parent or teacher would tell you, it is often the best course of action to briefly make a kid feel heard in their sorrow and then quickly help them move on and distract them with something else. They will often be feeling better sooner if you can get them re-engaged in the game or talk about something else. It has been awesome to watch the JPAs grow in their ability to read a situation and tell what course of action will best help a camper to feel better. I have been doing environmental education for over two years now, but this is the first job where I truly feel that helping someone else teach kids is the most rewarding part. I feel a swell of pride each time my staff navigates a new challenge with a camper.

My favorite find of the week:
a baby horseshoe crab molt in one of our camper's hands!

Catch you after what is sure to be another Crab-u-lous week!

No comments: