As the month of June began to wind down, I knew that the moment we were responsible for taking care of 35 children was arriving very soon. The level of anxiety in the office is pretty high around this time of the summer. None of the volunteers know what to expect or how to prepare, and with the lack of structure we suffered through this summer, no one was very confident that we would have a successful Summer Learning Academy. Everyone thought it was the end of the world, but I have lived through this experience more than once. Of course it was going to be difficult without a leader to coordinate the groups, but I knew as long as we support our students and fill their summer with new experiences we will get the job done.
On Monday, June 22nd all of our students arrived to Grand Valley’s campus and my team was as prepared as we were ever going to be. As the kids filed in the first few minutes were brutal silence, but as we started to do icebreakers and other hands on activities, I started to watch the kids come out of their shells. This year our program was majority boys and during the first week I quickly learned that they had a ton of energy to burn. Still, the girls in the group could definitely keep up because they were incredible smart and witty.
We ended our first week of program by visiting the Gerald R. Ford Museum in downtown Grand Rapids and the kids had a blast. We did have some struggles here and there, but the team of volunteers were prepared to handle whatever came our way. I had so much fun during the first week and I was so proud of myself for personally talking to every student in SLA. I even memorized all of their names by the third day. I know this position is going to be difficult as time goes on, but helping the kids in my community is exactly what I want to be doing with my summer.