Francisco Jimenez ’24 — First, I would like to start by thanking the Wabash Liberal Arts Immersion Program (WLAIP) for funding this amazing opportunity. I would also like to thank Wabash Alumni Bill Butcher and Dr. Roy Kaplan for connecting and helping me through the process of acquiring my internship at Camp Grier in Old Fort, North Carolina. Without Wabash, everyone mentioned above, and everyone involved in helping me build the professional career I would never have been able to acquire such a rewarding, personal, and public service-based internship.

As stated earlier my internship this summer is as a counselor in Camp Grier in Old Fort, North Carolina. To many, this may not seem like a big position, but the amount of responsibility and the personal and professional growth that this job has offered are immeasurable. As a camp counselor I have supervised and managed activities for campers as well as any situations or emergencies that develop throughout their time at camp. This job requires and has taught me the flexibility and a vast array of speaking/interaction skills as I interact with children of all ages and all walks of life. My time here has taught me about the importance of teamwork and time management to ensure that campers have the best experiences at camp. Furthermore, I have honed in on my patience, self-control, persistence, and empathy skills as all of these things have been vital in my interaction with my campers.

However, unbeknownst to me, this position would teach me new perspectives in life about people, child development, and the overall need for positive role models in the lives of children. I have witnessed children who have such a self-kept and tense perspective slowly shift, come out of their shells, and become happy towards camp activities. I have witnessed first-time campers enjoy their time at camp and shift from the “I never wanted to come” mentality to the “I can’t wait to come back next year” one. I have witnessed children of two different walks of life come to understand each other, create amazing friendships, and understand different cultures/perspectives. Most of all I have had parents come and thank me asking “How did you do it?” since they could not explain the transition that their child had undergone in one week. That’s the beauty about this job, the small yet impactful interactions that I have been part of and witnessed have made me appreciate and understand the need for good people to teach the next generation and guide them. I have enjoyed being of service to a community that provides children with memorable summers in a year of a pandemic, tension, and chaos.