Leadership Lessons

My name is Kate McCartney and I was a summer intern at Children’s Healing Center under Cheryl Raguse. I am going into my senior year at Grand Valley preparing to graduate this spring with a degree in Recreational Therapy. I began my internships experience at the end of May and have thoroughly enjoyed all my time there. I was given a substantial amount of responsibility and feel that I was given the tools to grow as a recreational therapist. I learned how essential it is to be adaptable, display creativity, and show strong leadership. Most importantly I was given the opportunity to be a part of these incredible kid’s lives for a few months and hopefully give them back some joy they so greatly deserved.

I was given the opportunity to be a part of
these incredible kid’s lives for a few months
and hopefully give them back some joy
they so greatly deserved.

This summer I implemented five different camps. I researched activities and created unique week-long lesson plans. Each week I lead my program and gained knowledge on how well the kids took to each activity. This gave me an insight on how I can adjust the plans in the future. By reflecting on activities with my supervisor and other staff members, I was able to challenge myself to be more creative in my next plans to better fit the group and future programs.

 Being put as a Zone leader for several camp weeks over the summer helped me come into my personal style of leadership. Through my weekly check in meetings with my supervisor, I was able to see what areas I needed to improve upon. I understand how much a leader’s enthusiasm affects a day. I learned to not only have great excitement with the kids, but also the staff and volunteers at the beginning of implementation. This will help the engagement and participation of everyone.

Kate helping with a program per-shut down

My time at the center also pushed me to realize how vital it is to be adaptable as a program leader and a recreational therapist. Because of COVID restrictions, we had to change how camps were run and as a staff we had to adapt the usual plans of summer camp. During camp days, I learned that some activities needed to be skipped or a new activity needed to be implemented in order to keep the day moving smoothly. This was the most helpful lesson I learned. As a recreational therapist, I know I must be ready to adapt any program and have a plan B at hand.            

My internship experience at CHC has given me the opportunity to improve my programming skills and increase my knowledge on the importance of play in kids’ lives. It was an honor to be a part of the kid’s lives and create connections with the families who go to the center. The biggest quality I have gained from this experience is confidence. I have received guidance and tools from my supervisor and the staff that I will use throughout my professional career. Everyone’s passion at the center has further confirmed my decision to continue schooling and become a Recreational Therapist. I am so grateful for my time at Children’s Healing Center and giving me this experience.