Day 5: We started out by discussing job applications and the campers were very engaged. We talked about what type of college they would want to attend, what to look for in a college, to filling out an application, as well as the college or job interview process. Everyone came out of their comfort zones. We were able to give feedback to the campers and everyone was able to accept constructive criticism as well as valuing the positive reinforcement. With each day that passed the campers created a stronger community and enjoyed interacting with each other. These activities gave the campers the experience of the interviewing process to prepare them for the real world.
Day 6: Field Trip- The day started with going to the Exotic Pet Shop where Brian took us on a tour and showed us the different animals in the store. He explained that each animal has different traits based on the species, but all they want is love, care, and a sense of belonging like all of us. Next, we went to Weis’s Market and took a tour of the store with the manager, Heidi. She reviewed many of the job opportunities available and spoke to us about how important it is to have knowledge of different food products as well as competitive pricing within the supermarket business. We went through different recipes and decided to make rice crispy treats, so we selected the different ingredients we needed. We were mindful of the cost of each item. Our final destination was a tour of a super Walmart with assistant manager Marty. The store mesmerized the campers with all of the numerous departments and many opportunities available. We went from department to department while Marty explained Walmart’s philosophy and the history of the company. We visited the seasonal department where everything was connected to spring and summer. We all sat in chairs and Marty opened up the discussion with great enthusiasm and care. You can see by their faces that the campers felt empowered and positive about their future. The key to everything in life is having options, so if Plan A doesn’t work, you have Plan B, and if not Plan C. But I promised the campers, they will find the place where their passion and skills match!
Day 7: Time management and organizational skills- The topic of the day was time management and how important it is to be aware of having time to do all of the things you need to do. We began by having each camper come up and give an account of their schedule during a week from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed in comparison to their weekend schedule. We discussed that it is important to get everything done, but also take time to have fun, relax, and take care of you. That means different things to different people- it could be exercising for one, reading for another, cooking, etc. Then we expanded the topic into how it relates to college or working. We talked about appropriate clothing to wear on an interview or on a date.
Day 8: Restaurant Expectations- As we got excited to prepare for our celebration at the Rileyville Cafe, the topic of the day, Restaurant Expectations, connected us to previous topics including budgets, healthy eating, and speaking with friends. We focused on skills such as waiting to order, waiting for food to arrive, and politely waiting for everyone to finish eating. We discussed that when ordering, you order the appropriate amount of food and look at the waiter. Campers reviewed eating and table manners as well.
Day 9: Cooking- To tie in how important time management and working together as a team are, we cooked rice crispy treats for the specialty counselors in appreciation for all of the great work they do at Summit camp. Everyone had a job and the campers seemed to understand how important it is to follow directions and work together in order for the recipe to come out well. They were very excited to see the finished product and felt so proud of themselves that it was their creation!
Day 10: Celebration- When we started on this journey together on July 22nd, it was as if we were starting the first day of school. Everyone was nervous and apprehensive; not knowing what was in store. As each day went by every camper developed strengths to build upon and helped each other in the areas that they had challenges with. They were willing to take risks and put themselves in vulnerable positions in order to feel comfortable facing the landscape of the next stage of their lives.
To celebrate the end of the TALS program, we walked to the Rileyville Cafe, which was another example of how exercise doesn’t have to be traditional in order for it to be part of your day. We reviewed safety rules and how important it is to follow directions and look out for one another. Once we arrived at the restaurant the atmosphere was so positive and Casey, the counselors, and I were filled with such pride watching how much the campers have grown. We valued how much more we learned from them than they learned from us. At the end, we had a ceremony and everyone came up and got a certificate for completing the TALS course. The TALS program was a great success and now you know why you truly feel the “magic on the hill” at Summit Camp!