Fiver Children’s Foundation is an organization I wish I had supporting me when I was growing up. From the moment I stepped into the New York City office, I knew I had a challenge ahead of me – this was definitely outside of my comfort zone. I was given the daunting task of both creating and facilitating courses that covered post-high school goals and pathways for campers I had not yet met. I was a little worried, but I jumped into the work immediately.
The first curriculum I created was for Senior Institute. It started off as an eleven-day class that would focus on the college application process. Based on former Fiver classes that resonated with myself and the college experience of my peers, I began creating the curriculum. There were ideas floating around such as letters of recommendation, financial aid literacy, and researching potential colleges for them to attend. At the end of my two weeks in the NYC office, I had an outline for the eleven-day Senior Institute with classes that covered letters of recommendation, activities transcript, researching potential colleges, financial aid, college essays, debriefing the college trip, resumes, stress and time management. My curriculum felt like an outline but I felt confident that I would be able to facilitate based on the work I had done to prepare.
After I finished the Senior Institute curriculum, I began to work on the eight-class Graduate Institute curriculum. I completed this curriculum similarly to Senior Institute by researching classes the organization has done in the past. By the time we were heading off to camp, I had created a curriculum outline that covered college classes, social life, drugs and alcohol, networking, resumes and cover letters, financial aid, stress and time management, and life hacks. It, again, appeared as an outline but I still felt confident I could facilitate the curriculum.
Once I arrived to Camp Fiver, I had a quick reality check.
This outline was not going to work. It did not have enough detail for future facilitators and there was a concern with some of the topics. At that point, I began working more closely with my direct supervisor because she was familiar with camp and the campers. After meeting with her, we reimagined Senior Institute to be a thirteen-day class that would cover searching for potential colleges, the activities transcript and letters of recommendation, the college essay, starting the common application, researching the colleges they would visit on their three-day college trip, resumes and cover letters, and the last class was a panel of Fiver Staff discussing their education and relevant life journey with the campers. The curriculum had completely changed; additionally, the busy nature of camp meant that I had limited time to work on recreating this curriculum – and it was not the only curriculum I had to worry about.
Similar to Senior Institute, Graduate Institute needed to be reimagined because some topics were taught in other classes and some topics had been covered in past years. After talking with my direct supervisor, the new nine-day Graduate Institute covered budgeting, searching for jobs and internships, resumes and cover letters, and a panel that would be similar to that used in Senior Institute.
When I began my Fiver journey, I knew that it was outside of my comfort zone. I was a woman who preferred small groups and knowing exactly what was going to happen, when and why – something that’s not always possible at camp. Working at a camp meant being surrounded with children who can be difficult to predict. It was not always possible to sit down and have a detailed conversation and sometimes I was asked to do something I had never done and needed to start in five minutes. Working at Camp Fiver taught me many things about myself and what it means to work in a diverse, dynamic environment. It means not knowing everything and being okay with that and going with the flow. It means being challenged every day. What I learned here will be carried on through my work.
It is impossible not to grow as both a professional and a person at Camp Fiver and I am thankful I was able to be a part of the 2018 Camp Fiver Staff.