Part of the fun of working at Barefoot is that we move church locations every week, so you can’t get comfortable at one place because we are constantly on the move, and it brings a whole new experience with every location. The second church week was a whole new experience because West End Community Church is not as big as the farm but quite a bit bigger than the last church we went to. We also had a lot more kids at this week than the first church week but not as many kids as we had at the farm. This week I was the Republic Leader for republic nine and the kids were around the age of eight or nine. I also lead the soccer specialty which was a challenge for me because I have not played soccer since I was five so I would have to go home and search drills for the kids to do that would make them better and soccer games that they would enjoy.
This week I got especially close with two little girls and a boy who were not blood related but they were such good friends that they called each other brother and sister, and about halfway through the week they started calling me dad which made me feel like I was really reaching these kids and making an impact in their lives.
My second week with Barefoot was a completely different experience from my first week of being a counselor. This week at Barefoot we moved from being at a farm to being at a church which completely changed the experience because there was a lot less space and not as many outdoor activities to do so the children had a lot more energy and were harder to control. The other difference from the first week was I was working with twelve year olds at the farm but at the church I had seven year olds and they had a lot more energy and were much harder to control. These two things combined really tested my patience this week and I learned a lot about dealing with younger kids when they act out but I am so glad I had the experience because I really grew and the kids exposed some of my flaws in patience that I have been working on since then.
This week instead of being a co counselor I was a Republic leader which basically meant I had more responsibilities and had to lead things like devotion and be in charge of my republic. I am very grateful for my first week of being a co-counselor because it really prepared me for this week because I was able to see what a republic leader needs to do and what they shouldn’t do the first week so I was much more prepared for this week as a leader. Other than being a Republic leader I lead the extreme sports specialty in the afternoon and this was basically a bunch of ramps that kids could go up and down on bikes, skateboards and scooters. This also helped me grow because I have a very calm personality and almost never feel anxiety but five minutes into extreme sports on the first day a child rode off the wrong side of a ramp and fell six feet down into a face plant and after that I was very nervous that the kids would do something else like that and really hurt themselves, but luckily they all ended up fine and I had to learn how to control my nerves and just keep an eye on the kids and stop things before they became dangerous.
A very heart warming moment this week for me came from one of my kids in my Republic who was one of the worst behaved. I was worried that because I was always getting onto this kid for doing the wrong things and I was always the one punishing him for doing the wrong thing that he wouldn’t like me but the last day of camp he told me he was going to miss me and he wished that I could be one of his parents and this made me feel really good that I had grown a connection with this kid so much that he wanted me to be one of his parents, it just made me feel like I had really made a difference in this child’s life which was a big reason that I became a turner fellow.
Two weeks ago was the start of my experience with Barefoot Republic. We had a week long staff training where all staff learned about the challenges or obstacles we might encounter as a counselor at Barefoot. We learned about the different backgrounds kids come from, all the barefoot chants, the barefoot rules, implicit bias, and how everyone looks at the world through a different lens than you do. This week really helped open my eyes to different struggles in peoples lives and helped me with the first week at the farm.
The first week of Barefoot camp was one of the most fun weeks of my life. I was in charge of thirteen campers who were around ten years old and it was so fun to see how each of them interacted with each other despite their different backgrounds and despite their personality differences. All of the kids were very well behaved but they had a lot of energy, which made them hard to control. This made my patience grow tremendously and forced me to try different approaches to try and direct my campers attention to the devotions and whatever activity we were doing.
Other than being a counselor I lead the mountain biking specialty which was definitely a highlight of my day. On the first almost all of the kids were unsure if they really wanted to do this specialty or if they would enjoy it, but by the end all of the kids were eager to go on the trails and many of them told me it was their favorite part of the day. One kids even asked if he could take the pump home so he could pump up his bike tires that were flat, and it made me really happy to see the kids discover something new that they had never experienced before and try it despite being skeptical at first and eventually falling in love with it by the end of the week. The first week of Barefoot was definitely a success and I am exited to continue this journey throughout the summer.