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Erin James: Summer Camp Counselor

Back in May, I began an internship with my church, First Southern Baptist Church in Bryant, Arkansas. I worked with the youth ministry alongside the youth pastor, Seth Alkire, and the other intern, Michael Buck. My initial list of responsibilities included setting up for Wednesday night activities, shopping for materials needed for service projects, creating Instagram posts for each event, making up games, and spending time with students. We also went to a camp, helped with different events such as a church-wide block party and VBS, organized group outings to mini golf and bowling, and spent every Monday at Moe’s, then at church for a sermon to be watched by everyone who attended. 

In addition to these tasks, I also planned and hosted a girl’s lock-in murder mystery party, which I feel was a success. Some of my girls took the initiative after that to host their own picnics, which I was invited to and I attended, even though it was not technically part of my job. The students were the main priority, and spending time getting to know them and having important conversations with them was the goal. While I did not always get to have spiritual conversations with them, I did get to build friendships with each and every one of them, which I truly feel is more valuable in the long run. 

Since we had so many different events and activities, much of my duties included cleaning and organizing areas that had been used. Seth, Michael, and I spent a great deal of time reorganizing the youth room, setting up and taking down tables, moving and stacking chairs, and picking up trash that had been left behind.

Throughout the summer, I have kept a journal detailing everything that I did. In addition to that, I completed my summer project, a series of short stories loosely based on the kids in our youth group, and heavily inspired by the real events we participated in. I ended up taking a different approach to the writing than I had anticipated. Rather than focus on different characters in each one, I created one main character who experiences and narrates each story. This way, the themes would tie together more cohesively, and the events could all be seen through the eyes of a student. 

Based on my original proposal for this summer experience, I feel as though I met most of my goals. The internship was very close to what I had expected it to be, though I did not realize how much work could really go into the entire experience. There were many moments this summer where I was tasked with a responsibility that I did not want to take on, though I did in the end. These moments were always incredibly rewarding, and I am grateful for the opportunities I had this summer as an intern at my church.