It hardly seems possible that it was a mere week ago that I stepped off the bus in south of England, arriving at the destination for my much anticipated summer job. The days have passed in a whirlwind like blur and if I am to judge by the time here, then the summer is definitely going to be an interesting one. The best way I can describe it would be akin to a roller coaster ride; dizzying highs, then some scary lows followed by some twists and turns enough to curdle the milk in your tummy. But put together, a very exciting and exhilarating experience.
The camp houses kids from all over Europe who come here for anywhere from two week to 2 months to improve their English language skills. There are about 12 teachers and 15 activities staff on site and we all share one computer with internet access! I was hired to be an Activities Leader which means that its my job to keep the kids amused and more importantly provide enough distractions to keep them out of trouble when they're not in classes. This includes on site activities like arts & crafts, dance, drama, sport, games, themed nights etc. and also trips and excursions to surrounding places of interest like Bournemouth, historic Portsmouth docks, Beaulieu in the New Forest region, Oxford, London and more.
Two days after I got here, the Centre Administrator abruptly quit and I was offered the job. It meant a pay raise and room and board covered. It also meant that I wouldn't be able to do a lot of the things that I had been looking forward to - mainly the trips! While I was contemplating this decision, the centre managers made the decision for me by offering the job to another AL.... and she accepted. Suffice to say, the next morning when I went into the office to accept the job, I was told "Thanks... but the position has been filled!" This might have phased me at one time, but not now. I was done with being pushed around and taken for granted these past few months and there was no way I was going to take this lightly. So I spoke to the centre manager and let him know that I considered this whole situation was utterly unprofessional and asked simply that he fix it. The solution was that both of us share the job role. To compensate for the mess up, he offered to wave all costs for accommodation and food for the duration of my contract. In retrospect, this has actually worked out better as now I get a higher salary and can still keep doing some of the activities with the kids. But I'm not going to let management know that. They should really know better and hopefully have learned an invaluable HR lesson out of this situation.
For now, I'm settling in and trying to sort out both professional and personal roles here. The other ALs are really nice, but all so damn young! The oldest of the lot is just 25 and the average age is 21. They haven't seemed to catch on to how old I am, and I'm taking care to keep vital pieces of information safe. I'm not ashamed about my age, rather just don't want to labelled before they have a chance to get to know me and figure out that mentally I'm probably younger than all of them put together.
We work hard and long hours. But we party hard as well. This summer is going to be a good one. I can feel it.