My Summer Experience: Rodrigo Patterson

Worked with Children's Foundation

My Summer Experience
Rodrigo Patterson
Worked with Tim Horton Children's Foundation

Personally I believe that one of the best services I could do is help children in need, and that's what I did this summer. I worked with the Tim Horton Children's Foundation (THCF) at their U.S camp, Camp Kentahten in Kentucky.

According to the Canadian Council on Social Development using Statistics Canada's Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics, 1993-2005 and the U.S. Census Bureau, Income Poverty and Health Insurance Coverage in the United States, 2007, one in six children live in economically disadvantaged homes. A Foundation camp experience provides programs that develop lifelong skills in children. When they return home, they bring with them a more positive attitude about their future and the confidence to achieve the goals they learned to set for themselves at camp. I myself went to these camps and I've been in the shoes of the campers.

As a camper, it changed my life. I came back each year, a total of seven years, with hope, love, and inspiration. Now, as a counselor my goal is to do the same. Every year of camp I remembered what my counselors said and what they did. They made a huge impact on my life and I'll always respect them. I graduated from the THCF Youth Leadership Program in the fall of 2011 and returned as a counselor.

This was my first time being away from home for three months. This was a huge step for me, and if you think just the campers learned things this summer, you'd be wrong. Being away from home made me be more responsible with my actions and with the things I did during camp, and on my breaks. Though I've mentored one or two children before, I've never been fully responsible for eight children at one time, all the time. The THCF camps are a day and night camp; they spend eight full days and two days of travel to and from camp.

The reason I worked 16 hour days, and even late into the nights, is for the kids. The reason I served eight campers and a co-counselor before myself is because I'm child-centered. I learned that being child-centered isn't just teaching them lessons and listening to them when they have something to share. But it's those times when you (purposely) lose a bet with your campers and have to wear a dress to a meal, or have to eat applesauce with butter or other crazy food combinations to cheer up your home-sick campers. Being child-centered means getting up at 2 a.m. when a camper has a bloody nose, or having energy when it's way over 100 degrees and you're tired. Being child-centered is many things, many more things than I thought could make an impact or give a kid a smile, but it did, and it was all worth it.

This summer I learned to step out of the normal programing. The first few sessions I did everything the way we were taught, but by the end of the summer I was taking programs like campfire prep, where we worked on a skit or song for the Day 8 campfire, and instead of doing it inside, we did it at the campfire. I learned that just by changing the wording or the scenery, it gave the program a whole new feel and experience for the campers. It also made it less boring for me because I've done it four times or so before, but we always had to remember, even though it was our 4th time, it was the camper's first. I've learned that trying new things, and keeping your goals in mind, you will get far, and a lot more done with the time you have.

I had an amazing summer, and it was all thanks to the campers. They make our day, they make camp what it is. The staff can do as much as we can to make camp fun, but it's really the kids energy, and the love of camp that these kids bring, that make camp what it is. And I can't wait to go back next summer.