by Zachary Vandermude
My summer was much different than I expected. This internship has exposed me to many different tasks, so a word of advice for someone looking for an internship at Fern Lodge—stay open-minded. Fern Lodge has many opportunities.
When I arrived in California, I was thrown into a new environment. The West Coast is a completely different culture and climate than what I was used to. This difference was smoothed out when the Operations Manager, Brian Stock, graciously picked me up from the airport and treated me to a great lunch. Brian pretty much established a precedent I saw again and again: everyone in Fern Lodge is friendly and willing to help you. The amount of love I felt made it very easy to start my summer on a good footing.
Before the kids came for FLOCK—the Fern Lodge summer daycare program for staff children—I did some other maintenance project to keep myself busy. I refinished a bench, removed ivy from a garden for a fence repairman, and painted one of the rooms. I was extremely grateful for the minimum amount of supervision and for the trust from, Brian and Ben, the Maintenance Supervisor. Brian and Ben are fantastic men. They will give you the supplies and guide you in the right direction. After their guidance, they will step away and let you work on the projects. This basic amount of trust let me work until the job was complete without micro-managing. And surprisingly, this works.
By the end of June, I was not working on these projects anymore, as the kids had finished school for the summer, and I was watching between 2-3 kids each day (and occasionally more). The kids are always energetic and need lots of attention and participation. The children require someone who is dedicated to making fun days, being patient, kind, understanding and sometimes willing to be strict when necessary. I came up with fun ideas for the kids to do this year, some of them include making bubbles, legos, cars, hot wheel tracks, books, arts and crafts, marble runs, sports, and water guns.
I have loved this internship. Everything has been very enjoyable and Brian will work with you no matter what happens. I was sick two days this summer and Brian worked with me both times. You can expect the same treatment if you ever do an internship too. I recommend making the most of your time at Fern Lodge. The effort, thought, and kindness that I gave the kids they gave right back to me. Sometimes you have to give a little tough love, but the kids come around. This was a fantastic summer and time with the children provided me with a wealth of gratitude for this opportunity.
Thank you, Fern Lodge!