Is It Play or an Internship?

Posted: November 20, 2012

Last week I wrote about the value of play as it relates to socialization and maturation. Play has an important role in the development of maturation for not only our campers, but the adolescents and young adults at camp who serve as our CITs and counselors.

As I reflected on the concept of play, it occurred to me that if I were a young adult, I might resent my activities being characterized as play. When I was in that stage of my life, it was important to me to be seen not as a child but as a capable adult, albeit a young one.

I started to dig a bit deeper into the literature about play. I found myself wondering what Piaget, Hymes, and Erickson would think regarding all that we have learned recently about brain development. Ah, this would be a whole new and interesting discussion, but I digress.

Regardless, there are any number of definitions of play that clearly complement what young adults want to be recognized and valued for today when engaging with the world:

  • Comprehension of directives
  • Ability to cope and react in emotionally appropriate ways
  • Flexibility of mind
  • Adaptive practices
  • Ability to create and improve
  • Responsive to circumstances and environment in appropriate manner

It is also clear that many of these attributes resonate with the 21st century skills. Play for the young adult is a form of rehearsal where one continues to refine and hone one’s skills and abilities.

So, I return to the title of this blog. Scott Brody, an ACA board member and owner of Camps Kenwood and Evergreen, often talks about the counselor’s job as a legitimate internship that should be valued as much as any other internship that a young adult might secure, if articulated appropriately. It’s an internship that offers supervised practical learning opportunities; an internship that affords one the chance to acquire professional skills that will serve one in life and career. Let’s consider how we describe the counselor’s internship. How would you describe such an opportunity?

Is it play or an internship? I think it is both . . . the best of both.

Photo courtesy of YMCA Camp Kitaki, Lincoln, Nebraska

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