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Lake County Gazette

Sunday, February 23, 2020

GURNEE PARK DISTRICT: 5 Things to Know. My summer internship with Gurnee Park District

Local Government

By Press release submission | Aug 14, 2019


Gurnee Park District issued the following announcement on Aug. 12.

It feels like just yesterday, I was interviewing with the Director of Recreation Mike Wick; feeling confident and nervous at the same time. Fast forward a couple of months, and I have experience under my belt. For those future interns out there, here's a few tips for your future internship as well as some great things to know:

  1. Get messy 
  2. Learn as much as you can
  3. Meet lots of new people 
  4. Take risks, get out of your comfort zone
  5. Have fun
Get messy

Interns get messy!  Special events and fun with kids and park guests can be unpredictable. Be prepared to be covered in any of the following:

  • Water 
I can't count how many times Nathan (my co-intern) and I got soaked! From getting suddenly poured on at a Sounds of Summer concert, Summer Lunch, Neighborhood Nights or trying to fill up water coolers and water balloons. 

  • Paint 
Painting a photo board for the fishing derby had me scrubbing blue paint off my hands for days. Shout out to Steve Becker, Parks and Grounds Operations Supervisor, for the pumice stone hand soap!

  • Mud 
We ran out of rocks for our rock painting activity at one of our Neighborhood Nights, and had some unhappy artists on our hands. So, I went underneath a bunch of trees and dug around trying to find more. When I did, they were covered in dirt, so I washed them under a water cooler and dried them on my t-shirt. I might have ruined a perfectly good shirt, but the kids had more rocks to paint! 

Learn as much as you can 

I knew I'd be learning a lot during this experience, but it ended up being more than I anticipated. We were told a lot of information, yes, but we were also given independence and responsibility. Being able to create, plan, lead, and implement an event or a project allowed me to understand every little detail needed to achieve the goal and/or objective provided. The biggest takeaways:

  • Making giant bubbles will always be a huge hit at any outdoor event with kids AND adults
  • Weather is unpredictable and will always play a part in your day-to-day thoughts
Meet lots of new people 

On my first day, I visited three different buildings, each one full of new coworkers to introduce myself to. Beyond Park District staff, I met so many amazing volunteers, sponsors, employees of other park districts and organizations, and a ton of wonderful community members. At times it was overwhelming, but it was mostly just fun. Everybody has their own story, and it's a privilege hearing them and getting to know so many extraordinary people. 

Take risks and get out of your comfort zone

There were plenty situations I was not familiar with. Whether it had to do the unpredictability of children, or the uncertainty of weather, you'll see it all working in a Park District setting.

Additionally, being the newest member of a team can be uncomfortable. For example, I attended a retirement party for a preschool teacher with decades spent teaching at Growing Tree Preschool, and although I wasn't one of the sweet coworkers shedding happy tears, it was enlightening to see how tight the Gurnee community is and how each individual employee can have an impact on their co-workers, the community, or in this case, their students.

Have FUN

I was lucky to be paired with a co-intern that was just as driven and willing to learn as I am. We got along together really well, and it made all the tasks and projects throughout the summer more enjoyable. From comparing the quality of our rock painting creations (mine were better) to taking ridiculously far water balloon tosses right to the stomach, we made the best out of our internship together. All of the kiddos we got to interact with also contributed! There is nothing better than hearing hysteric laughter and the immense smiles that come from something as simple as creating a giant bubble.

This summer with Gurnee Park District was so much fun, a great learning experience, and a time I will truly cherish. The messes and hard work were worth it, and I'll always be grateful. 

Thank you Gurnee for a great summer! 

Original source can be found here.

Source: Gurnee Park District

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