First Graders and What I Learned

For a long time, I either wanted to be a princess at Disney World or a tour guide at some point in my life. During my freshman year of college, the latter came true as I was hired on to be an IUPUI Campus Ambassador through Undergraduate Admissions and the Office of Campus Visits.

I usually work on the daily tours program, giving tours to prospective students and their families. This past Friday, however, I was on a group tour of 77 students + chaperones.

Little did I know that the 77 students weren’t the typical high school students, nor were they the if-not-high-schoolers-then-middle-school students. Nope, these were 77 elementary-aged kids. First graders, to be exact.

When I first found out this news, I was a little nervous. How were we expected to corral 30+ individuals on a tour (our typical number of individuals on a daily tour) let alone 77+ individuals, especially when they were in first grade?!

There were five of us tour guides scheduled, so we were each going to take approximately 15 kiddos and divide the chaperones evenly.

When the busses arrived, we realized that there were three classrooms accounted for, and the classes wanted to stay together. Five campus ambassadors, 3 classrooms. 2 tour guides per class, with one doing a solo tour. I was the soloist.

Now why am I telling this story on my camp blog? What does giving an IUPUI campus tour have to do with camp?

My experiences working at a camp gave me skills that I used in my part-time Campus Visits job. I was able to confidently take on a classroom of 24-first graders by myself and show IUPUI’s campus to them on their level.

I didn’t have to be afraid of them but could relate with them.   I knew how to get on their level because of my time spent with kids working at SpringHill. I also was able to converse with the teacher well (who had the same last name as me – Ms. Emily Sauer!) and get along with her.

The kids did well! They were better than some middle school students I have had on tour. They were considerate, obedient, and asked lots of good (and sometimes random) questions.

Yes, it was tempting to sing a camp song or two as I was corralling them from place to place, and, when we had down time at the end, it was hard not to start up a game of Poisonous Dart Frog.

This classroom of kids need the love of Jesus just as much as those that come to camp. Maybe I was a light to them, maybe through my kindness they saw Jesus. Maybe years from now they will remember my tour and think back to why I seemed different.

As for me, I learned:

  • I never know when knowing how to work well with kids will come in handy.
  • I can interact with parents/their chaperones well and with ease.
  • I love working with kids, and I have missed interacting with them while being at school. I can’t wait for this summer and to be able to love on children daily.
  • Camp ministry is where I belong. When working with this group of first grades, I received affirmation that I should work with youth in my future.
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