My First Job…

July 9, 2015 in Finish-The-Sentence Friday

It’s weird to be writing about my first job now, especially because I haven’t been officially employed by someone else (other than some freelance work) for about 16 years…but that’s another story.

I decided to participate in this week’s Finish-The-Sentence Friday* blog hop because it’s a great time for me to reflect on my first job while Big Dude is working at HIS first job.

Our two first jobs are similar. I was a day camp counselor. Big Dude is a junior counselor in basketball at the sleep-away camp where he was a camper for many summers. That is probably where most of the similarities end.

With my first job, let’s just say I was disenchanted with the situation. I had never worked with kids before, other than some occasional babysitting jobs. And I never really had the desire to work with younger kids, so I’m a little perplexed even now why I took that job in the first place. I suppose one way to look at it is that after working at that day camp, I now knew FOR SURE that I didn’t want to work with kids in any capacity.

It wasn’t a terrible job and a few of my friends worked at the camp as well. I think some of them actually liked it. All we had to do all day was accompany our respective groups of campers to their daily activities. Depending on their ages, they sometimes needed help with tying shoes and putting on bathing suits. But other than that, they were a pretty self-sufficient bunch. I don’t recall ever needing to actually participate in the activities with them. The “specialist” counselors were responsible for running the activities so we were basically chaperones for the day.

For a 17-year-old girl like myself, this was more difficult than it sounded. Here’s why:

I couldn’t sleep until noon. I had to be up and ready to go by 7:30am. The mini school bus would pick me up first and then we’d pick up all the campers in the neighborhood. This felt like an endless meandering ride and frankly, ruined my day before it essentially started. We’d arrive at the camp with our raucous (i.e., LOUD) group by 9am and by then, I was ready for a nap.

I had to stand all day in the heat. For someone who would much rather be horizontal on her couch in the air-conditioning watching General Hospital, this was not fun.

I was tired from the night before. It was the summer after my senior year, before I was leaving for college. My high school friends and I were pretty much going out late every night. Not a good recipe for an all-day job that required you to be awake.

I had to braid a little girl’s hair. This was the icing on the “I’ll never work with kids again” cake. I should have known right then that I was destined to be a mom of all boys, because I could not braid hair and this little girl seemed to want to torture me with my lack of hair skills. Every day her parents would send her to camp with two perfectly braided pigtails. When our group would have swim, usually right at the end of the day, she would swim around the pool, and slowly unbraid her hair, staring at me the whole time with these devilish eyes that would say, “Ha, you’re screwed honey. You’ve got to braid my long, brown hair when it’s wet and tangly.”

She’d get out of the pool and after a lame attempt at re-braiding them, I gave up and put her hair in two lop-sided, knotty pigtails. She looked ridiculous and I was sure her parents hated me.

The only positive of that job for me was that we did get a paycheck, as miniscule as it was. The best part was the last day, not just because it was the last day, but because parents could send in tips for us. I was sure braided girl’s parents would stiff me, but oddly enough, they gave me the biggest tip of all. They must have known how she played psychological games with me each day by untying her braids.

It’s too soon to tell if Big Dude is liking his first job as much as I disliked mine. But, like I’ve told him already, it doesn’t matter if you like it or not. You made a commitment to work there for the summer and if you don’t like it, too bad, you’ve still got to honor your responsibility, suck it up and finish the job.

Isn’t that what low-paying, boring summer jobs are all about?

*This post was part of Finish-The-Sentence Friday blog hop.





{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Janine Huldie July 10, 2015 at 7:02 am

I totally worked in retail for my first job, but I did work in summer camps before having my kids as a teacher to supplement my income during the long, summer vacation months off from my teaching job. I have my own horror stories there believe me and will say this, I truly don’t miss those summers in the least either. Good luck to Big Dude and can’t wait to hear how he is liking is first job experience now.
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ohboymom July 10, 2015 at 2:38 pm

Working in retail was my 2nd “real” job…also kind of a horror show, but I survived. I guess the positive of working in certain jobs is at least it helps you realize what you DON’T like to do.


Kelly L McKenzie July 10, 2015 at 11:17 am

Grinning here. Hugely. What a horrid little girl braid-girl was. Her parents must have gone through hell – judging by the size of the tip they gave you. My two (19 and 21) are swim coaches and have to get up at dawn. I remember watching their coaches arrive for work years ago. It was obvious on the days they were hungover but they always did their jobs well. At away swim meets my friends and I would quietly slip them bottles of Gatorade to help them make it through the long days. My son reports others are doing that for him now.
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ohboymom July 10, 2015 at 2:37 pm

I love that Gatorade tidbit – I bet those coaches thought you were definitely one of the “cool” moms, helping them out like that. :)


Judi July 10, 2015 at 11:30 am

I was a counselor at a sleep away camp that I attended – it solidified my love of children. I loved the camp, the kids and the job. One of the girls I was a counselor with when I was 16 and she was 17 is still one of my best friends – I was her maid of honor.


ohboymom July 10, 2015 at 2:36 pm

I think that’s the thing about those counselor jobs – you either love them or hate them. That’s very cool about your maid of honor. I have a similar story: my best friend from sleepaway camp was my maid of honor too. :) Still one of my bestest friends even though I don’t get to see her nearly as much as I’d like.


Kenya G. Johnson July 10, 2015 at 12:35 pm

I doesn’t seem like hair braiding should have been part of something you had to do. I remember a daycare that I had to go to one summer and we went swimming twice a week. My mom told me to wear the swim cap which I didn’t want to because no one else did. So I just didn’t get me hair wet. I tell you those hours at the pool were as miserable as you standing in the heat all day. Totally not related but you triggered a memory 😉
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ohboymom July 10, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Well, I’m glad I triggered a memory, even if it wasn’t the most pleasant one! I’d be miserable if I had to wear a swim cap too. :)


Kristi Campbell July 10, 2015 at 5:26 pm

LOL to “Isn’t that what low-paying, boring summer jobs are all about?” Yup! I’m so glad you linked up this week, Emily!
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Anna Fitfunner July 12, 2015 at 5:37 pm

It’s fun to read your experiences as a summer camp counselor, while my kids are away at summer camp. I never worked at a summer camp, but I can now see it through the eyes of those teenagers who are watching over my kids (both boys, BTW, so I’m right there with you). Thanks for taking me on a great trip down your memory lane!
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ohboymom July 12, 2015 at 7:05 pm

Yes, it’s funny to now look at a counselor job from a teenager’s perspective as I recall how disinterested I was – a little scary actually! But, I’m betting most of the teenage counselors are more capable than I ever was…


Kerri July 13, 2015 at 8:43 am

I was cracking up at the braiding the hair comment. Thinking to myself thank goodness she had boys! I think it is great that Big Dude is following in your footsteps. And when he complains about the job remind him he doesn’t have to braid any hair!
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ohboymom July 14, 2015 at 9:37 am

Good point! Although the visual of Big Dude braiding someone’s hair does make me smile! :)


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