How My Summer Job Left a Lasting Impact

Many college students get summer jobs only to make some extra cash before the new semester starts. But when I was hired by Jackson County Extension as a Summer Program Assistant, I knew this job wasn't just for the money. I walked into that summer position knowing that Summer 2019 was going to be a summer full of growth, learning experiences, and memories in the making. While I knew that I would be making a difference for some kids, even if it was only for a short while, I did not know how much I would be impacted in the process.

While working as a Summer Program Assistant, most of my summer was spent assisting summer school enrichment and helping coordinate various camps such as Theatre, STEM, Art Explosion, Kids in the Kitchen, and Growing in the Garden. One of my favorite parts about putting these programs together was the freedom to make each camp what I wanted it to be. My co-workers and I weren't just handed lesson plans for most of the camps. We had to be creative and decide what was best and the most fun for all of the kids participating while focusing on different skill areas such as science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. 

I didn't realize how much this summer job meant to me until the last week of camps. On the last day of my theatre camp, I noticed the growth of ten kids from the first day of camp to four weeks prior. I connected with teachers and the feelings they have as their students move into the next grade. Even though I only had this small group of kids for a short period of time, I saw them grow from being shy to using what we taught them about teamwork, problem-solving, and communication to come out of their shells and be themselves. Watching them become better brainstormers, problem solvers, public speakers, communicators, and performers was one of the most rewarding experiences I'll ever have. 

This was a life experience I will never take for granted. While the kids, their family, community members, and Jackson County Extension all thanked me for doing what I did, they are the ones I should thank. Without them I wouldn't be the person that I am today.

Photo Credit: Zoey Jenkins