Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management major Kristen Biddle spent her summer working at Clearwater Cove Young Life Camp in Lampe, Missouri. Her time at Clearwater Cove allowed Kristen to make connections with people that changed the way she sees service and faith, learned how to become a better leader, make new friends, and see the ins and outs of Clearwater Cove as an organization working towards their mission in serving kids.
This summer I had the incredible opportunity to work at Clearwater Cove Young Life Camp out on Table Rock Lake in Missouri. Throughout the summer we hosted middle school and high school students, as well as teen moms and a few groups of students with special needs. My job specifically was to manage and oversee everything that went on relating to the challenge course. Built about thirty feet above the ground, the challenge course overlooks Table Rock and is absolutely breathtaking. It really was an amazing office space; however, the best thing was getting to work with the volunteers and campers. Watching someone conquer their fear or equipping someone to send campers through the challenge course was by far the most rewarding part of my summer experience. Over the three months I was at Clearwater I learned so much from the people around me and was able to grow as a leader.
Going into the summer I was not completely confident in my leadership abilities. While I was excited about the opportunity to be at camp and loved what I was going to be doing, I was fearful of not being able to do my job well and that maybe I wasn’t qualified enough. Being someone who is very comfortable following directions and has a more reserved personality, it was a slightly intimidating being the one who was giving the directions and making the calls. However, throughout the summer I found that there was always room to learn and grow. The greatest takeaway I had in leadership is that I was not meant to do it as someone I was not. While it was important to take away valuable lessons I had learned from other leaders, I was not meant to be exactly like them. Each person will have different strengths and challenges in leadership, and that is how it is supposed to be. Working with my team showed me that each person brings something different and valuable to the table. If we were all the same we would miss out on so many opportunities to learn and appreciate each other’s gifts. Learning this through my experience at camp allowed me to be confident in my abilities to lead and be encouraged by the people around me.
Throughout the summer I had volunteers with experience levels ranging from very familiar with the course at Clearwater to none at all, being terrified of heights. After training, it was really incredible to see them lead campers through the course. After each day we would all get together to share what we were learning throughout the experience and if we had any impactful moments. These meetings were filled with stories of the summer staff (volunteers) talking campers through a challenging element or sitting with them on the last platform before they took the final jump. Moments like these would always bring me back to why I was doing what I was doing. It can be really easy to get frustrated in a job sometimes, whether it is with the people you are working with, the duties of the job, or even yourself — I know I can. Once I stepped back to see kids absolutely loving the course and getting to experience something they may not get to do at home, it was more than worth it. To watch a whole cabin of kids cheering on their friend about to jump off the last platform is just one of the thousands of rewarding moments of the summer.