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By Elizabeth Morris

                  Seven years ago I became a summer intern at Our Community Cares Camp (OCCC), and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. At 15 years old, I wasn’t interested in attending many camps myself, and I found that I wanted to make a transition into a leadership role instead. Because of OCCC, I discovered my passion for poverty alleviation and interest in public policy formation, and I also learned valuable skills like leadership, confidence and resilience. I’m proud to say that I am one of the first interns that OCCC ever had, but definitely not their last. 
            Elise Wyatt has been with OCCC for 5 years, and is now one of our star counselors. But she started out as an intern. After only a year, she proved herself to be the perfect fit for a counselor position.
            “I became an intern because I had seen the change that OCCC had made in my older sister’s life. My sister, Lindsey Wyatt, had worked at the camp for a few years before she convinced me to intern,” said Wyatt. “She raved about the incredible community atmosphere at OCCC and the difference she made every day as a positive role model, and this praise inspired me to volunteer. Six years later, I continue to return to work at the camp every summer because I have become invested in helping inspire campers and interns in the way that Lindsey inspired her campers and inspired me.”
            Our Community Cares Camp equips teenagers (age 14-16) with a variety of skills for any future job. Interns work directly with campers, and help the counselors with day-to-day tasks and organization. Like me, Wyatt’s time with the camp has allowed her to develop incredibly important skills necessary for the future.
            “Within OCCC, I am able to apply leadership skills I have learned from counselors and staff to step into roles of responsibility without being directed to do so,” said Wyatt. “This independence and sense of awareness translates outside of camp as well, as I have found myself feeling comfortable leading groups and navigating tough situations.”
            Paige Goudreau spent her fourth year with OCCC this past summer. As a counselor for one of the “junior” groups, she worked with some of the camp’s youngest campers. Starting as an intern in 2012, she quickly fell in love with the campers.
            “My favorite part of my internship was being with the kids. They were such joys in my life and I learned something new from each and every one of them. They are so full of life and happiness and have so much potential and inspire me a lot to work so that our kids can grow up in a better future,” said Goudreau. 
            A few weeks during the month of July may be the start of something new, inspiring and beneficial. Camp Interns have the opportunity to develop skills that will allow them to expertly work with children. Skills like communication, attention to detail, resilience, creativity, leadership and more. But OCCC is so much more than a list of skills you’ll use to start your career; we’re also a family.
            “It gave me lifelong friends, taught me that I wanted to work with children, and gave me so much work experience and gave me wonderful recommendations for college as well as future work,” said Paige Goudreau.
            OCCC is recruiting interns for July 2016 now. If you’re at least 14 years of age, and are willing to volunteer your time for 2-4 weeks during the month of July, we’d love to have you! See our website for information on how to apply: http://ourcommunitycarescamp.org/job-opportunities-internships.html.   Interns can choose to be junior counselors or culinary interns.  If you are only 13 but can get a recommendation from a teacher or other community person, you could also be considered.
(Elizabeth Morris is a senior at Ithaca College and is also an assistant to the Executive Director of OCCC).