Over the years, I have made meaningful connections with people from all over the world. From the US to Canada, Europe to Asia, Africa to Australia and back; almost all of these connections are because of my experiences at camps and summer programs. Whether it was a counselor I had when I was a camper, a trip leader on my teen tour or coaches at the tennis camp I went to when I was a kid, I met leaders from all over the world. In my years as a staff member and administrator of camps and summer programs, I have expanded my network even more. I am confident that in every country I visit, I can find at least one person that I know and it is all because of my summer experiences.
In my mind, there are two results that are gained from having these types of international experiences: perspective and advantage. Both of these life skills are important for proving the value of an experience like this and I’ll explain why.
In 2015, perspective is an essential component to working and living in the world with other people and developing an understanding of the global community. Meeting others and showing a genuine interest in what makes them different will give you an understanding of who they are. Where do they come from? What is it like there? Why did they choose to join the program you are both attending? What values are important to them? As we discussed in our entry about Entrepreneurship [link to Entrepreneur Blog], we have one mouth and two ears for a reason. Listening to what others have to say is a key component of understanding who they are and how best to effectively communicate with them. If you truly take advantage of this opportunity, you will come to learn how to work with people from all over the world. This skill is one that will carry you to the next level in any college experience or career.
People sign up for summer programs to prepare them for life. In other words, summer programs give each student a competitive advantage in all of life’s endeavors because of the unique experiences and relationships they will gain. Spending a summer with people from completely different walks of life can enhance your understanding of how the world works; in turn giving you the tools needed to tackle life’s challenges. This really is an incredible opportunity for young people and it is not one that every middle or high school student is able to experience. What’s even more incredible? This doesn’t have to be a study abroad or travel program; you don’t even have to leave the US, or maybe even your state, to experience it! There are many programs like JKCP where students travel from every corner of the globe and right to your back door to get a taste of the global advantage.
We often strive to surround ourselves with like-minded people who appreciate what we have to offer. This is why I love working in the world of summer programs. When we open our doors on arrival day, we are opening the door to students from over 35 states and 40 countries, each bringing unique characteristics and “isms” they have learned in whatever part of the world they come from. Why is this so cool? These 500+ people are living within the equivalent of one square city block. When this happens, we are forced to learn from each other in a way that can only make us better. We not only learn names and the basics about each student's background, but we learn what makes them unique. It helps us to create a space that we can call home for however long our session is. It also helps us to create connections that will surely take us further in life than we would without them. It gives us the perspective we need to gain an advantage in life’s pursuits that few people have.