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A free verse poem about a meaningful summer I had!

By Talia DevoraPublished 2 months ago 9 min read
Photo by Grace Ho on Unsplash

This summer

was quite the ferris wheel ride.

Some days I went high up,

some days I went down low.

It was a season

of mental risk-taking.

It was a season

of confidence and development.

This summer

was quite the ferris wheel ride.

Some moments I saw the sky,

some moments I saw nothing

but rain and storm clouds.

It was a season

of downright mental paralysis.

It was a season

of spiritual inquiry.

This summer

was quite the ferris wheel ride.

Some weeks were emotionally excruciating,

some weeks were rewarding.

Without divine intervention,

this ferris wheel ride

would've been unbearable for me

to remain on.

Because of the godly support I received,

I was a hero

and a superwoman.

By Markolf von Ketelhodt on Unsplash

Why was this summer meaningful, even though it was tough?!

For those who don't know, I'm a recreation services professional. Since this past spring, I've been a municipal recreation worker who would help out and run multiple recreation programs at various city-run community centres. Being a recreation worker is rewarding and fulfilling, but it can also be tough at times.

One brightly sunny afternoon in May, I remember receiving a call from the municipal camp coordinator saying that he's looking for a summer camp art specialist for kids ages 4-7 years old. As I was making my way to the local park, I spoke to him and as soon as he discussed the job opportunity with me, I eagerly accepted his offer. I love kids, summer camp, and teaching art, so why not take the job if it was offered to me?! A few days after I accepted the call, he sent me the employment contract that I signed and submitted with honour and pride.

Before I began my summer job as a children's summer camp art specialist, I spent the remaining weeks enjoying my favourite activities, being with my friends/family, and I went on a 10-day father-daughter vacation to Israel. Israel was a blast; I had the chance to tour the Old City of Jerusalem, the beaches of Tel Aviv, the suburbs of Tel Aviv (where my brother currently resides), visit an Arab village for the first time, walk around and find The Sea of Galilee, and much more! I even got to pay a visit to a new kibbutz (an intentional Israel community where people collaborate and live together) and a few moshavim (Israeli settlements) that I've never visited before. There's tons of things to discover in Israel, so I was grateful to encourage myself to discover things I haven't done during my first two visits to Israel. One of the things that I did that I didn't do during my first two visits besides visiting The Sea of Galilee was to have traditional knafeh (a traditional Arab dessert with sweet cheese and sugar) in an Arab village called Tayibe. These memories I've made will never vanish; they will stay with me for the rest of my life.

From July 4-August 25, I worked as a municipal summer camp art specialist. It was a fulfilling job, but it was also stressful and draining from time to time. I'd work 8-9 hours from Monday to Friday. Some days I'd work 9 hours, because I'd have to watch and supervise kids before the camp day began. Municipal camp staff are obligated to work at least 2-3 before/after camp care shifts. I'd opt for the before camp care shifts, because I'd only work from 7:30 am-4:30 pm, which were 9 hour shifts. If I decided to work the after camp care shifts, I'd be working for another 2-3 hours (10-11 hours in total, because I'd be working from 8:30-6:00 pm 2-3 days a week), and it would've been unmanageable for me. Once the work day was done, I'd want to go home and recover before the next day. I despised getting up early, but I believed it was worth the battle if I didn't want to spend another 2-3 hours looking after campers. On the days where I didn't have to work before camp care shifts, I'd work from 8:30-4:30 pm (8 hours).

The campers I worked with were a pleasure, but some of them were quite a handful. They loved me like I was their mother. They counted on me, played with me, hugged me, and wouldn't leave me alone. It made me feel quite special, even on the hardest of days. Although the campers were a pleasure, some of them were a nightmare. I dealt with one camper who had behavioural issues, and I'd have to give the camp directors a ring or a text message at least 10 times a day, because it'd be impossible to calm her down on my own. Other campers would complain about her to me, and it was painful to see and hear that they felt unsafe around her. It broke my heart. Although the camper was a handful at times, she was an absolute sweetheart; she was famous for being a hugger. I loved doing all the arts and crafts activities, playing card games, reading stories, spending time outdoors, and playing catch with my campers. I didn't just love doing my favourite activities with them, but also teaching them art skills that they'd be able to utilize for the rest of their lives. I typically didn't enjoy leading games or activities that I'm either not good at, didn't know, or that I forgot (e.g. Soldier, various drama games, sing-along songs, etc.)

I usually had a co-counsellor with me, but some days I'd be all by myself with 6-10 campers. I'd be told the day of that I wouldn't have a co-counsellor with me, as opposed to being told the night before. It was a complete disaster and would create mental breakdowns on the job. I abhor unpredictability and a lack of management, especially on the job. It drives me insane. A couple co-counsellors I worked with were a pleasure, but they were also a challenge. One would expect me to do all the work, and she would make a bunch of excuses for not wanting to carry out her duties. Another one of my co-counsellors had a few mental breakdowns and outbursts on the job, which were terrifying for both the campers and myself to witness. One camper asked if she was a boy or a girl, and it set her off. Witnessing and dealing with a staff having an outburst was unpleasant, but I understood where it was coming from. I was mainly worried about the kids having to encounter that.

Later on in the summer, I experienced a high-degree of burnout to the point where I'd dread going to work, felt pessimistic, and numbed myself with unhealthy food I'd either get from the convenience store or vending machine. I've never felt this burned out once in my career.

At the camp I worked at before COVID, there was a lot more predictability which decreased my risk of burnout. Since it was a private day camp, it was structured differently: there were separate staff to lead different activities like sports, dance, drama, art, swim, music, etc., and separate staff to look after the children for the entire camp day. The counsellors would be the ones to look after the campers during the camp day. They'd take the kids to the activities and stay with them at all times. Camp specialists would only be responsible for leading an activity of their expertise (my specialty was arts and crafts). If a camper or a staff was sick, they'd pay a visit to the camp infirmary, where camp nurses would care for them. Specialty staff would receive the activity schedule via email a couple or a few days in advance. A couple to a few days before the camp week began, staff would be notified if a camper or staff needed accommodations. Most of the staff were more proactive and mature. Days were more predictable and were structured better.

City-run day camps are a different story. Many of the staff were kind and mature, many of them were also immature and lazy. Camp specialists wouldn't just lead the activities (e.g. dance, art), but would also act as the camp counsellors which added more stress for people like me. If a staff or a camper was sick, there was no nurse to go to; they either had to drink water, relax, or go home and rest. Lack of resources made it hard for both staff and campers, but it is what it is.

As a result of the mixed feelings I have about my summer, I felt both frustrated, helpless, happy, and safe. This summer taught me some important lessons that I'll never forget: 1. To not give up on things that are difficult. Not everything is easy, so we have to challenge ourselves to stick through things that are tough. 2. Not every work environment is for everyone. We'll never know which work environments are suitable for us unless we try for ourselves. That's how we will learn and grow as professionals in any industry, not just the recreation and leisure sector. 3. Some people you work with will be straight up immature, no matter what you do. It's their deal, not mine.

I'm proud of myself for encouraging myself to get through the summer. I thought I was either going to quit or have days where I'd fake sick just to go to the library, but I chose to do the opposite. Some days, I'd literally have to yell at myself to get out of the bed and go to work, no matter the circumstances. I hate yelling at myself, but it's what I have to do if I want to be able to cope in the workplace. It did the trick, because I didn't fake sick once or had poor attendance. There were days where I'd slack off a little, but I'd always keep trying. I consider myself a trouper for everything I've done to help me manage and keep a difficult summer job.

By Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

Moral of the story: No matter how difficult work gets, we all have the ability to learn, develop, and toughen up. Uncomfortable situations and environments teach us how to problem solve and adapt.

By Brands&People on Unsplash

Thank you for taking the time to read another one of my poems. If you found this poem inspirational and meaningful, please give it a ❤️, share it with others, comment, and don't forget to send me a tip to show your appreciation and support. To find and read more of my content, please consider subscribing and visiting my public profile. Stay tuned for more poetry, recipes, stories, and more exciting content!

Please feel free to follow me on IG!

IG: @tdwrites24

By Katya Ross on Unsplash


About the Creator

Talia Devora

Poetess, visual artist and lifestyle/quiz writer! My pastimes include reading, sleeping, gaming, music, fitness, etc! Be yourselves, be kind and value life! Let's connect and be friends!

My IG accounts: @tdwrites24 & @tdcreates97

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (3)

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  • Cathy holmes2 months ago

    Sounds like you had quite and interesting summer. The poem was wonderful.

  • Great job and Breaks are needed♥️💯📝😁👌

  • Tiffany Gordon 3 months ago

    Proud of you Talia! This was so inspirational!

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