Too old for summer camp, too young for a job, what could a kid do all summer? For one group of young people, work experience and volunteer service hours are gained through the Leaders-in-Training program at the City of Marco Island’s Parks and Rec Department for Camp Mackle. The program started three summers ago to help regular camp counselors, however, this is the first year the program was limited to high school aged kids only.
“The LIT’s get great work experience,” said Mindy Matusiak, Recreation Manager. “They complete a job application, go through employment screening and the process of a job interview. We then have try-outs through a team building experience to see how they mesh with camp counselors. It’s amazing to watch what ideas they have and see their leadership skills surface. We have 13-15 kids that work regular hours in the LIT program to help with the 55 or so kids we have in camp each day. When we have a field trip we schedule six LIT’s to go along. This year we had 170campers, the majority being local children, but up to 30% are children on vacation looking for something to do.”
Camp Mackle uses 15 campers to 1 LIT ratio, in addition to the regularly employed camp counselors. Besides work experience, they gain experience working with children and can become regular counselors themselves some day. Not only is it good for their resumes, it reflects well on college and scholarship applications.
All LIT’s cited the accumulation of volunteer hours as one of the best perks of the program. LIT Alexis Rizzo, 14, said she has gained many skills and had the opportunity to partake in some fun activities. Even at her young age, she recognized, “It was fun to be a kid again!” Her greatest challenge was waking up in time to be there by 7:00 AM, but says it conditions you for the school year ahead. Erika Garris, 15, said she loved the kids at the camp, “They’re sweet kids.” Her advice for those considering becoming an LIT next year, “Be willing to deal with kids that don’t want to listen and beable to set up all the things/games the counselors need.”
Travis Vosburgh, 18 years old, said he likes seeing the kids. “The hardest part is getting them quiet.”
Drew Fordon, 14 years old, in his second year as an LIT said, “It is great seeing the kids grow up.”
Douglas Turner, 14, “I used to come to this camp!”
Victoria DiSciullo, 17, “I like being with the kids. It’s a challenge to entertain all of them at one time.”
Mindy herself was a camp counselor for summer camp at Mackle. After graduating from college, she returned to work for the Parks and Rec Department. Her great work ethic, high energy and creative ideas have brought her up to managing the recreation programs. She is soon to marry Matt Gordon, a fellow camp counselor she met nine years ago proving a summer job can change your life.
2012 CAMP MACKLE
Samantha Camposano, Alexis Rizzo, Patrik Okenka, Natasha Gengenbach, Bobbie Jean Furman, Megan Hine, Sean Wallace, Jordan Davidson, Kahlissa Milam, Sara Hine, Travis Vosburgh, Maddison Forester, Douglas Turner, Morgan Dulski, Alan Lora, Jake Dworkin, Alexander Excell, Drew Fordon, Elizabeth Clark and Victoria DiSciullo.