Perspectives from the Field: Camp Near & Far
We recently sat down with Field Mentor Petra Kovacs to learn about her experience with SeriousFun’s Global Partnership Program (GPP). A Field Mentor’s primary responsibility is to coach, train, and partner with the local camp leadership team to implement a safe and intentional camp program that meets SeriousFun criteria and is appropriate for the local culture and community. Petra has been a field mentor in six different countries so far: Uganda, Ethiopia, Malawi, eSwatini, Vietnam, and Botswana.
Petra and members of the local leadership team at Camp Addis in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Camp Addis is run in partnership with Worldwide Orphans Foundation.
How did you first hear about SeriousFun’s Global Partnership Programs?
I first heard about GPP back in 2011 while I was working at Barretstown, the SeriousFun camp in Ireland. I knew if I wanted to work with GPP I needed a little more experience, so I did one more year at Barretstown before I applied. I was over the moon when I found out my first assignment would be Uganda in January 2013.
What struck you during your first field mentor experience?
What struck me the most is that camp is not at all defined as a place or a space. The camp culture can be embodied in any physical environment. It is fascinating how you can take the three core values of safety, love and respect, along with some camp traditions, and you can literally bring camp anywhere. What I love most about experiencing different GPP camps is seeing the different cultural flares that each camp weaves throughout their programs.
Why did you decide to return for other field mentor assignments?
I just love it so much! Six years later, I have a full-time job and I use my holidays to work these programs. I do it because I love meeting wonderful and inspirational people. The local leadership teams are full of energy and enthusiasm and are so keen to learn and develop.
A group of field mentors and local staff take a quick break from camp preparations for a photo at Camp Hope in Lilongwe, Malawi.
How did these experiences help you grow?
My assignments have constantly pushed me to step outside of my comfort zones. Each program is unique and comes with its own strengths and challenges. They have strengthened my coaching and facilitating skills and helped me to think outside of the box to develop innovative training sessions.
What does this experience mean to you?
These experiences allow me to be a part of this amazing worldwide community of camps, where we are continuously serving more kids affected by serious illness each year. It allows me to grow camp leaders to run sustainable camp programs across the globe, and to connect and learn from incredible leaders in the camping industry to help me grow as an individual.