When I was 6 months old, I was enrolled in a child care center called Savannah Youth University. This daycare is divided into two sections, SYU, for the younger children, and once you turn 5, Camp Pacer. As I grew older, I stayed enrolled in this program, twelve amazing summers full of memories and friends that I will never forget. Once I turned thirteen, the summer going into my ninth grade year, I became a leader in training at Camp Pacer. This is the first phase of the leadership program. You spend two years as a LIT and than two more years as a counselor in training. I completed these four years on a volunteer basis and, last summer, started my first year as a paid counselor. This was a dream came true for me and I am one of few who have made it from infant to counselor without missing a single summer.
During this past summer, It hit me one day driving home; this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. It occurred to me that when I was at camp, I was always invested in what the kids were doing, but when I was away, I was constantly thinking about them. These kids that I've worked with have had such an impact on my life and I've seen and heard things that not many people get to experience. One day last summer, a parent was picking their child up and looked at me and said, "Are you Mr. Jacob? My daughter comes home every night with stories about you and she has had a great summer so I would just like to thank you!" That might have been one of the many highlights of my summer. It was truly a blessed feeling.
My position at Camp Pacer is the P.A. instructor. Project Adventure is a ropes course that starts on the ground, and as the summer progresses, goes up into the trees. It starts out with basic communication, team-building, and trust activities, and evolves into a fifty foot high ropes course. I am lucky enough to work with all the age groups so I get to get to know each child on a personal level. When a child is in a tree, and the only thing keeping them safe is a rope attached to you, that child is at his or her most vulnerable position. They are so scared and so nervous that they are going to fall, but my job is to talk them through it and get them down. It's the most rewarding feeling when a child is stuck in a tree and you are able to talk them down and you see the look on their face; the look of "Wow, I cannot believe I just did that but it was so much fun!" I help them realize their full potential and help boost their self confidence.
Being the P.A. instructor has helped me realize what my line of work is going to be. I have decided to invest my passion for childcare in becoming a child phycologist and helping those kids who need special attention. You never know which child might need it. I've worked with children with split homes, learning disabilities, special needs children, children with anger management, bipolar children. And I have come to realize that when you get to know them, gain their trust, and show them how much you truly care, you can get through to them. I cannot even begin to explain the love I have for these kids. Knowing that what I do every day has an impact on their lives proves to me that this is what I was put on this earth to do.