L.A.C.E.S. Blog

Summer 2021 Journey Reflection

My name is Ryleigh Cornelius and this is a reflection on my experience serving as the Refugee Youth Sports Camp Intern this summer.

The Start of my L.A.C.E.S. Experience

My L.A.C.E.S. experience started in March when I interviewed for the Communications Internship. While I was not necessarily passionate about the role I was applying for I was extremely passionate about the cause and what L.A.C.E.S. stood for. Which was perfect because I was rejected for that role which led me to the Refugee Youth Sports Camp intern position. I was filled with joy when I got the news and my initial excitement carried on throughout the duration of my internship. It took me a while to get into the swing of things though once I navigated the online professional setting and developed relationships with my coworkers it became a very fun working environment.

Preparing for the Camp and Returning to America

Once I travelled back to the states from the UK things in my internship became easier due to the fact I was on the same time zone as everyone else. Since I was back I was able to start making calls and inquire about booking venues for our activities and request in-kind donations. Some of the work was long, though what else can you expect when you are trying to set up a summer camp for 50 kids. After all the forms and safety waivers had been filled out it was almost time for camp to start.

My Week at L.A.C.E.S. 2021 Refugee Youth Summer Camp!

I travelled down to DC the day before camp started. When we finally met the kids I could tell they were packed with energy and throughout the week-long camp that energy stayed consistent.

My favorite day of camp was the day that we took the kids rock climbing. Surprisingly, this was probably the day that I thought I would have liked the least. Though seeing the kids conquer these massive walls and the massive smiles they had on their faces really made my day. They would ask for their photos to be taken and for videos of them and you could see how proud they were of their accomplishments. After this, we took the kids to a park, gave them lunch and played a game of soccer with them, in which at some points I was severely outplayed. 

When the last day of camp came around I was honestly quite sad. I had developed real relationships with the kids I was working with, especially the older boys. We had inside jokes and secret handshakes that were so intricate I struggled to keep up at points. It was clear that the kids had quite an amazing time at camp as they were so thankful at the end and were running around asking for everyone to sign the soccer balls we had distributed to them. Once the bus left for the last time I reminisced on the work that we had completed and was extremely proud of how the camp went.

Post-Camp Blues and What is next for me

Going back to laptop work after the camp was difficult due to the amazing time that we had had the week before. This internship was a unique opportunity I stumbled upon while scrolling through Indeed. Though I could have never known the adventure it was going to take me on and how much I would learn and how many great experiences I would have. Once I have completed my internship and my summer comes to a close I will be going back to Elon University to complete my final year of education before going off into the real world. This internship has taught me valuable life lessons that I will continue to use once I have graduated. The largest takeaway for me has been: I will always make time to help others regardless of what field I work in. Doing the necessary behind the scenes work to have the result of seeing so many kids smiling faces was worth it a million times over and to receive that reward as the fruits of my labor will fulfill me more then my job salary ever will.