By Jessie Stracener
Every year my biggest job-related event takes place in the summer. It is VBS, or for those of you not raised in the deep south, Vacation Bible School. Children come to church for three, four, or five days or nights in a row for a few hours and learn bible stories, silly songs, and make cool crafts and eat awesome food. This is a great time. It is a ton of fun, and it is absolutely exhausting for me as I’m the one responsible for making sure it all runs smoothly.
Over the years I had a lot of different summer jobs and a lot of them have invlolved a summer camp setting for children as I’m sure many teenagers and people in their early twenties do. In fact, in addition to VBS, I also am involved in a series of day camps for children with topics ranging from sewing to recycling. From all of this hot, sweaty, sometimes nerve wracking work, I have a few nuggets of wisdom that will help you survive your summer job or, really, whatever life throws your way.
1. Don’t take yourself or what you are doing too seriously. I am not always the best at this, in fact sometimes I completely fail to meet this goal and I get very worked up over a certain aspect of an event. But for the most part I try to adapt a laid back positive attitude. When you are working with kids, or even adults, out in the hot sun, in a stifling summer heat, please remember that not everything will ever go according to plan.
2. Take some time for yourself. Don’t expect to get much sleep in the summer. That is my new motto. If I thought I was going to get to lay back and relax…I was wrong. I have been working double hours and coming in long before everyone else just to keep up with these events. Coffee is my lifesaver. For some people it is five minutes of meditation or morning yoga. Whatever it is you need in order to keep your sanity, be sure and invest in that.
3. Take pictures. Some of the cutest moments with people’s kids happen away from the parents, yet parents want to see that their kids are having fun. First, make sure you have permission to take photos of their children, then try and capture the moments. Let the kids make scrapbooks of their time. These sorts of things teach them to appreciate the happy moments as well.
4. You have five minutes to get any one point across. If you can’t show children whatever it is you want them to learn and you can’t do it with a song and dance or within five minutes, you need to change your message. I tend to be long winded. I learned, the hard way, that unless I am talking to other long winded nerdy people no one will pay you any mind after about five to 15 minutes. That really includes adults as well.
5. Be silly! This is a another hard one for me. I take myself way too seriously. If kids can see you getting into whatever it is you are doing, be that singing, dancing, crafting, or just playing kickball, they will respect you a lot more and it builds a good relationship. Plus everyone needs to be silly occasionally. Singing goofy camp songs with all the hand motions is the best way to let loose.
I am a happily married 24-year-old woman living in the heart of the south. By day I work primarily with children or doing some sort of clerical work. I’m an ace with excel spreadsheets and bandaging “boo boos”. I’ve had nearly every job you could think of and I have enjoyed most of them, from working at a museum, library, Microbiology lab, and a Music studio to being a birthday clown, a tutor, and pretty much anything else you can think of. I love to sew, cross stitch, embroider, and work with beads and wire to make awesome trees. I will try crafting anything at least once. I also love to read. I will read nearly anything. I also like to cook when I have the time.