Camp: Week 2
“I’m in a loving, caring zone.”
– Anonymous Camper
I am now on Week 4 of working with The Quad, and Week 2 of virtual camp! Getting to know my campers has been so exciting, and I’m having such a great time working with these amazing kids. Over the past two weeks, I have noticed both some benefits and some difficulties of working with children over Zoom: There is less of a concern for physical behavior, yet only having access to campers through a screen makes it much easier to lose them. While the kids are enjoying really fun activities, they can also get distracted by their screens, disappear from view, or leave the meeting altogether if they are bored or frustrated. This makes it harder for us to problem solve and means that the parents are more involved in camp than usual. More often than not, we’re able to take our campers to breakout rooms to decompress if they’re having trouble.
So far, we have learned new strategies like the Zones of Regulation and tried new things in our classes, such as online drawing and Dungeons and Dragons. In contrast to my university schedule, which would have a later start, my Quad schedule consists of camp from 8 A.M.-2 P.M. and various psychosocial and intern meetings in the afternoons.
I’ll admit that waking up at 7 A.M. every morning has been an adjustment, but overall, having a regular work schedule feels healthier and more rewarding. As a Brandeisian, I would normally be taking four classes, working two jobs, and leading two clubs, but as an intern, I am able to pour all of my cognitive resources into my work with The Quad. Even though it’s a job that comes with a lot of responsibilities, I feel at ease knowing that I have the time to give it my all and a strong team supporting me along the way.
As we approach midsummer conferences with parents, I am reflecting on all of the skills that this experience has taught me so far. I have learned strategies for helping children regulate their emotions, how to phrase things in a way that makes them feel validated, and how to come up with feasible goals. I have gotten to sit in on speech and occupational therapy, witnessing my campers’ progress and meeting the professionals who work with them. I have learned to look past diagnoses and focus on kids’ abilities. And perhaps most importantly, I have learned to rely on and work with my core team of interns and educators to make sure we’re doing the best for our campers.
All of these skills will prepare me for future jobs in the mental health field, and for any collaboration I may have with educators. The Quad has made me think in new ways, and I hope that for the rest of the summer, my campers will continue to learn as much from me as I have from them.