Like most college students, Katelyn Boyett couldn't wait for summer to begin. However, her reasons for wanting summer to come were a little different from most. For Boyett, working at Camp Will is the most exciting event on her calendar all summer.
“I love it! it’s probably one of the things I look forward to the most,” the education major said.
Located in Franklin, Tenn., Camp Will is a day camp for special needs youth. The camp runs seven weeks out of the summer and campers are grouped together by age to enjoy fun and engaging activities throughout those weeks.
“We usually just take them to their different activities and hang out with them and make sure they have a fun and safe summer,” Boyett said. “We have different activities like bowling, arts, music, and we have the Wii. We also have a swim day every week.”
Along with fun activities for the kids, the camp also arranges for a few special visitors throughout the summer. Campers meet members of local fire departments, dancers from the Nashville Ballet, Nashville Zoo employees, and even Gnash, the Nashville Predators mascot.
Boyett has always had a passion for working with kids. As an education major, she plans to dedicate her career to teaching children. When she heard of the job at Camp Will, she saw the job as an opportunity to work with kids from different backgrounds to help expand her knowledge and passion.
“I always had such a passion for working with younger kids,” Boyett said. “I hadn’t had much experience with special needs kids, but then it sounded interesting, and when I started, it was just really fun. It has its challenging moments, but it’s definitely worth it.”
For Boyett, a simple gesture from the kids can make all the hard work she puts in worth it.
“Working with kids is going to have its challenges, but I could be having a bad day and I look over and see a kid smiling, having fun, or a little kid comes up to me and gives me a hug and that turns my whole day around,” Boyett said. “So, I know that working in a school system will also have its struggles, but just knowing that the kids need you and love you just as much as you love them is really something cool.”
Prayer is a number one factor when working with the kids at Camp Will. Boyett believes when going into situations, to find the best outcome God must be in the middle.
“I will definitely say it takes a lot of praying because sometimes some poor situations will come up, and you will have to take a second and just pray for God to give you guidance so that you can do the right thing and that you can handle the situation with patience and love,” Boyett said.
While guiding the youth at Camp Will, Boyett is thankful for what Trevecca has taught her. She says that her professors have taught her that teaching is much more than just a classroom environment.
“A lot of my education classes specifically showed me how a classroom environment is more than just a classroom,” Boyett said. “It’s more of like a family that has to work together and you really have to include God in it, even in a public school setting. Even if you can’t talk about God to the kids, you can still pray over the kids in your head. I have a lot of professors that just show me what type of teacher I want to be one day.”
The children at Camp Will teach Boyett lessons that are easy to forget in everyday life. When she arrives at Camp Will, she quickly remembers all the reason that makes her life good.“One of the lessons I learned is that you can really be happy no matter what place you’re in,” Boyett said. “When you look at some of these kids, they don’t have the ideal situation, but they're some of the happiest kids I have ever seen. They have fun and the parents love their kids so much. It just shows me not to take anything for granted. If I came in to work and I had a bad day, as soon as I step in I think to myself, I really don’t have anything to be upset about, I’m healthy, I’m happy, I have a family that I love, and I have a job that I love.”