When I was in elementary school, each summer, my parents would send me to various overnight camps to learn new skills, make friends, and become more independent. Besides all the fun I had, I remember always looking up to my camp counselors so much. They were typically college students and had a passion for working with others. It wasn’t until this year that I was able to provide this sort of experience for new campers.
This summer, I worked at Adam’s Camp in Colorado. Adam’s Camp has always had a really special place in my heart. The camp is an overnight experience in the mountains that is specially designed for people with disabilities. I have been involved with Adam’s Camp for 6 summers now, but this summer was my first as a counselor. Being a counselor means that I have to help manage the large cabins and make sure all campers are staying safe and happy.
This summer, I was lucky enough to have three different cabins. Each day, we tackled new challenges and activities like rafting, zipline, arts and crafts, and my personal favorite the camp dance. Going straight from my USC life to camp for a full week was certainly a shock for me. When I wasn’t at camp, I was conducting research on ultrasound development. I think working at camp really helped me stay motivated and complete the large amount of work I had to do for research. Being a camp counselor involves an entirely different part of my brain, and I love having a mental break like this.
Paddle Boarding in the Reservoir
To be honest, I can’t imagine my engineering experience without my non-engineering activities. I often get asked “do you have time to do things outside of engineering?”, and the answer has always been yes. Engineering is hard, but you should not spend all your time on it. I feel so lucky that Viterbi encourages and promotes involvements outside of our field of study. Having small breaks throughout my day to go rock climbing or hang out with some elementary schoolers has been so vital to my success in Viterbi.
Besides giving my brain a break, my experiences in non-engineering activities has really helped expand my understanding of the world. Seeing my campers lives first hand for a week really changes my understanding of what challenges people with disabilities face. I take these experiences and memories, and share them in my classes so we can design biomedical devices to help increase independence for these populations. I can’t wait to take my passion for disability advocacy further in the future.
Adam’s Camp isn’t my only involvement though that impacts my engineering mindset, everything I do somehow plays a role in my classes and research – it blows my mind. I honestly don’t know how I came up with my hodge-podge of activities, but I am so grateful that they all happen compliment each other so well. All I can recommend is that you follow your heart and join what truly interests you, it worked for me. 🙂