June 6, 2009 - 12:00 AM
About four months ago, I randomly decided to apply to this job I found on the Internet. In an attempt to find an excuse to travel, I thought that this opportunity I had found in New York would be just perfect. I have never been to New York and it happens to be half way to Europe. Therefore, about four months ago I applied to work for the Fresh Air Fund, a nonprofit organization located in the great state of New York.
The Fresh Air Fund provides free summer camps to inner city youth from low-income families. The children who are chosen to be in the program have never been out of the city. Therefore, it is a life changing experience for many of them to be taken to one of the five camps in Upstate New York. They get to see the beauty of nature and bond with other children over a variety of activities.
The more I read about the Fresh Air Fund, the more inspired I became by it. I have worked for the last three years in the ACE after school program at Meadowlark Elementary here in Eugene. ACE, like the Fresh Air Fund, is aimed at empowered low-income youth. I saw the Fresh Air Fund as the perfect opportunity to gain more experience in the field and to make a difference in the lives of children.
However, I never expected to hear back from them after I applied. First of all, I applied pretty late in the application process. Secondly, I figured I was just some girl out in little Oregon. The competition was bound to be huge. Well, one month ago, I went to check my voicemail after work. I had a missed call from a number I didn't recognized, one that started with a 212 area code. I had to listen to the message twice. The first time I heard something about an interview, but I didn't catch who was calling. I kept thinking, "Where did I apply?" I had completely forgotten about my application to the Fresh Air Fund. When I listened to the message a second time though, it stood out clearly. It was a woman from the Fresh Air Fund calling on behalf of one of the camps and wanted to know if I would like to set up a time for an interview!
I was so excited! I didn't even know what to think! New York? Me? If it were to happen, I'd be leaving in a little more than a month. It would happen so fast! I had already made a plan to stay and work in Eugene. I was going to take it easy and possibly travel toward the end of summer. Should I change my plans? I decided I had to at least interview for it.
By the time the interview came along, I was pretty sure I had already made up my mind. I was just going to stay in Eugene. However, this changed once I started talking. I was all dressed up for my phone interview and had my notes ready. I began talking to an energetic woman in New York and as the interview went on, I knew I had to go.
It was possibly the best interview I've ever given. I was excited and had great answers to everything that I was asked. The interviewer even skipped a few questions because she said that she knew I'd already have amazing answers! I expected the interview to end and then to wait a few days to hear about the results, but instead I was offered the job as the Art Program Specialist at Camp Anita Bliss Coler on the spot!
Camp Anita Bliss Coler (Camp ABC) is one of the five camps offered by the Fresh Air Fund. It is the only all girls camp. The girls are ages 9-12 and learn to build confidence and independence throughout 12-day long encampments. I couldn't imagine a more perfect camp to work at. It would mean so much to me to be able to be a positive person in these girls' lives, empowering them to be the best they can.
Last Wednesday, I officially signed my contract to work in New York for the summer. I bought my plane tickets and I leave out of San Francisco on June 15. On June 16 I will be in Fishkill, New York, preparing for the first batch of kids! It is all happening so fast! I go between extremely excited and absolutely terrified. When I was offered the job, I wondered if I could get everything together in time. I have to finish school, move out of my house, pack for New York, get back down to California - so much! What I realized though was that it didn't matter. I was meant to go and to do this. It is going to be an amazing journey.
I am going to be staying in New York for a couple weeks after the camp program is over so that I can explore New York City. I am so excited!! I will be blogging about my experience over the summer, so stay tuned! Apparently there is only dial up at the camp though and I will be working 24 hours a day with these kids, so I'll be trying to keep up with the blogging as much as possible. I can't wait to share my experience and what I learn about the program with everyone!