Ryan's Summer at Severson

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Hello everyone, my name is Ryan Lefaivre. I am going to be a Junior at Augustana College majoring in Environmental Studies and Geography with a minor in Anthropology. This year, I was fortunate enough to work as summer staff at Severson Dells, aiding in the summer programs. The experience and knowledge of nature I have gained throughout the summer is priceless. Working at Severson Dells has given me an insight for future career paths while allowing me to grow as a person.

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During my time as a camp counselor, I felt myself grow more confident as a leader and as a person. I didn't have much experience with children before this summer, but now I possess many qualities and qualifications to guide any group of children through lessons and activities. Being able to see our campers create a deeper understanding and appreciation for nature made every single day worth it. Additionally, being a friend to the campers allowed me to develop meaningful bonds and hopefully leave a positive impact on their lives.

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Working at Severson Dells has taught me that when a job description says "and other duties," it truly means "and other duties." The average workday for me would include assisting in summer camps as well as various other chores and tasks. From deep cleaning canoes to staining wooden boards, there is never a dull moment at Severson Dells. As lackluster those tasks sound, they allowed me to grow closer to my co-workers which made every job memorable. 

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Along with being a counselor and general laborer at Severson Dells, I also gained a massive amount of knowledge about our natural world. I remember walking into Severson Dells on my first day not knowing almost anything about tree and plant identification. However, I can confidently say that I am now proficient in identifying many native animals and plants. I can now ID trees like no one's business.

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In addition to the knowledge of nature I acquired over the summer, I also conquered my fear of snakes. I am the Great Value version of Indiana Jones with my Geography and Anthropology experience, but, most importantly, my fear of snakes. My partner in crime during the summer, Danni, helped me conquer my fear by allowing me to warm up to touching snake skins and tracking them down in tall grass. 

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Overall, Severson Dells has been a dream of a summer job. I was able to be outside all the time while educating children on the wonders of nature. The memories I have created this summer will be with me for the rest of my life. I will forever be thankful for the experience of working at Severson Dells.

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