Playing lifeguard

Have you ever been assigned to be a lifeguard for 30 kids who don’t speak English while they are splashing around in the Pacific Ocean? I have this skill that makes me come off as a person who knows what they are doing; but I really don’t. It was a bit nerve-racking, but everyone survived. 1930435_20436868513_9388_n

After I graduated high school I flew on down to Puerto Vallarta for about a month to help out at a summer camp that would be in the middle of no where jungle somewhere nearby. My parents had missionary friends who lived down there and I was going to help them with whatever was needed. During this time I brushed up on my Español, ate good food, played with kids, and met lots of fun people.

I went into this whole experience with no idea what to expect – and I was in for a treat. Before the camps began we took a bus out to the countryside where we would be staying for a few weeks. As soon as Leanne, a girl from Chicago who was also helping out, and I arrived, it was pouring rain. We were to set up a bunch of tents to prep for the camp. For hours we slaved away in the rain while being eaten alive by mosquitoes, but I couldn’t complain – I was there to help… After that first day, we were satisfied with our work and ready for a hot shower. 

During those two weeks I helped out as a cook, played lifeguard, reffed sports games, helped set up all sorts of activities, and pretended like I knew what was going on. Luckily, there were plenty of people who spoke English, as well, so I wasn’t completely lost. 

I made a lot of friends, had a great time with the kids, and really enjoyed my overall experience. It was definitely a step out of my comfort zone as I was traveling alone, had never really been fully immersed in a non-American culture, and was away from my friends and family. But ever since then, I have wanted to travel and have definitely not been as “high maintenance” as I used to be. It was a learning experience that I am very grateful that my parents threw me into. 

The staff on the last day of camp

Family trip to Mexico

Got my passport!

During my senior year of high school my parent took my siblings and I to Puerto Vallarta for a week. Half of the time we stayed with their friends and helped paint houses and the other half was spent relaxing in the sunshine at a beach resort. It was a nice little mix of some work and leisure.

It was definitely my first time experiencing a bit of culture shock. We went outside of the city to see the poverty. My family and I saw where people lived at the dump and brought donations; we also painted people’s houses and learned about a different side of Mexico the tourists don’t always see. My parents wanted my brother, sister, and me to see what the world looked like outside of our comfort zone. At the time, I was only 17, so it didn’t really phase me. But I think it really made me realize that life is not always just sunny beaches all of the time.