Summer State of Mind

Discussing summer job experiences with four Redeemer students

It might not feel like it when you look out the windows and see the enormous amount of snow piled up, or when the temperatures linger far below zero, but summer really is just around the corner. Final exams start on April 12 which is just six weeks away. And with summer comes the inevitable summer job. Being a student and finding the right summer employment can be difficult. There are a lot of different criteria to be considered, some people want to work outdoors or work with their friends. Some of us want jobs in our fields so we can gain experience, and others really just want to make money. There is lots to consider and it can be overwhelming trying to figure out which direction to head in. I spoke with a handful of Redeemer students about their summer job experiences this past year and asked them about the ins and outs of their chosen summer occupation. Hopefully their insights will give you some inspiration about the options that are out there. 

Dayna Tempelman, a third year student studying Psychology, spent part of her summer working as a beverage cart server at White Water golf club in her hometown of Thunder Bay. A day in the life for Dayna meant getting to the club at ten in the morning, filling up the cart with different drinks and snacks, and heading out on to the course until the sun went down. On days when she wasn’t needed on the cart she was a bartender for various club events. For Dayna, the best part of the job was the sunny weather and the tips, and the worst part was the late nights spent cleaning up after weddings and tournaments. When I asked Dayna about other memories from the job she told this story “On my last day of work this summer I happened to make a very big mistake. I was so excited to go home after a long day out on the course, and I happened to take a corner way too sharp. As I was taking this corner, my case that holds all of the liquor was not strapped in well enough, and it flew right off the side of the cart. Lets just say it was a lot of money worth of liquor and there was glass everywhere. Luckily I had awesome co-workers and a forgiving manager.” Dayna says she would definitely work at a golf club and she recommends that other people try it as well. 

I also spoke with Shauna White, an environmental science major in second year. Last year she went up to Northern Ontario and planted trees with the Haveman Brothers. When I asked what the job entailed she explained that basically you spend all day in the bush, planting trees on your individual piece (your section of land). Pieces can be drastically different- some are great (referred to as cream pieces), and some are less so, full of rock and residuals. You live in a tent with other planters in the middle of the bush for eight weeks. Shauna says that the best part is the people you meet, and the atmosphere. And she emphasized that if you’re a good planter, you can make good money. When asked about the worst part, there was lots to be said. There are physical challenges- the job is extremely hard on your body and people would often hurt or strain their knees, backs, hips, shoulders, wrists, ankles, toes, hands and more. As well it is mentally challenging, as you have to motivate yourself to plant and you have to keep your spirits up to make it through the day. You spend all day alone with your thoughts. Fifteen people left Shauna’s crew over the course of the contract because they were injured or simply couldn’t handle it. One time one of Shauna’s friends had a wolf and a bear on her piece and didn’t notice.  However Shauna emphasized that really, the worst part is the bugs. Even after all this, Shauna is excited to go back again this summer. When asked if she would recommend it she said “Haveman Brothers is still looking for planters so if anyone is looking for a job I would one hundred percent consider looking into tree planting!”

Leah Routenburg is a second year student with a double major in English writing and Art and last summer she was the head of the lifeguard team and recreation team at Camp Hermosa, a Christian summer camp in Goderich, Ontario. Her job included spending every day at the pool teaching lessons, guarding camp swims, and rating camper’s cannon-ball splashes. She would also run recreational games like slip-and-slide soccer baseball, survivor in the forest or mission impossible at night. Leah noted that other parts of her job that should have been in the job description were the “endless French-braids for the girl cabins, being the villain in every game, match-making banquet dates, and losing my voice at  campfire. Being on camp staff requires you to have energy one hundred percent of the time every day of the week; while you’re at camp all summer the kids that come only see you for a week so you need to be as excited as they are every day and very invested in the 100th canon-ball that they show you. “The best part of working at camp” Leah says “is becoming friends with the kids each week and remaining their role-model throughout the year. Sometimes campers will bring up things that they remember me doing last summer which I have no recollection of but it’s clear that moment was important to them and it motivates me to create moments like that every day with every camper.”

Asked about the downsides of camp employment, Leah had this to say. “Sometimes the worst part about working at camp is knowing the life that some of the campers will be returning to after the week is over. It’s hard to hype a kid up all week and make them feel on top of the world when you know their home life or school life is really discouraging to them. That is why we make it our job to show them God’s unfailing love and the strength they will always get from their family at camp, no matter where they are.”

She also talked about how running camp last summer during covid was definitely a learning experience, but that staff adapted to make sure campers still felt support at Hermosa while they quarantined. Adaptations included running family camps instead of kids- week camps and serving food out of the lodge’s windows, sanitizing surfaces 24/7 and and driving all over delivering camp-care boxes to each camper’s house. Leah reflected that “last summer I learned I actually missed rating canon-ball splashes” She is looking forward to going back to Camp Hermosa this upcoming summer and hopes that cabins can be full of kids again. 

Finally I spoke with Aaron Lantz who is in his third year studying BioChemistry. He worked as a labourer for P.W Concrete, a small concrete company based out of Baden, Ontario. He enjoyed the crew he worked with, especially his boss who he said was a great man to work for. As well he appreciated learning a completely new skill set that is far from what he studies for eight months of the year. The worst part of the job, according to Aaron, was adjusting to the physical nature of the work during the first couple weeks. Aaron emphasized that he learned a lot about concrete and that he learned to love it as well. “To the point of looking at random peoples driveways to see the workmanship put in/how I might do it differently. In addition to this practical skill set, I learned a lot about my faith and evangelism as I was the only Christian on the crew, which led to some of the most meaningful conversations about faith I have ever participated in, both with my crew mates and client with whom I interacted with!” He plans to return to the crew this summer, and is looking forward to another summer of good work. 

These four summer jobs are pretty different from each other, but hopefully they give you some inspiration about what is out there and what others have done. Finding a summer job can be stressful, but finding the right one is incredibly rewarding and can lead to great memories and new skill sets for years to come.