My working experience during the pandemic

Summer camp stressful and fulfilling


Photo by Abby McMorris

Senior Abby McMorris works in Camp Paseo as a camp counselor and takes on eight hour shifts everyday.

Abby McMorris, Reporter

I came close to being personally affected by COVID-19 when I chose to work this summer. It’s still so bizarre that we are making history and being tested for a deadly virus. Who would have thought last year that this was how 2020 would be? Not me. 

Working during an international pandemic was a difficult decision.

I worked at Camp Paseo, a day camp for kids aged 5 – 12 at Bellaire Parks and Recreation during the summer of 2019. It was my first job, and I loved it. It made my summer feel so full, busy and productive.  

I felt so good having so many little humans looking up to me. 

Then I had the opportunity to come back, and I felt torn because, you know, a pandemic and all. 

My family was worried. My dad visits my elderly grandma a lot and my brother has had asthma issues. 

Ultimately, I decided to take the risk.

I needed the money and experience. It was a pretty time-consuming job with almost 40 hours a week, but I knew it would look good on my college applications, and I just love kids. I also felt good knowing I was watching kids while their parents worked. 

It felt like a pretty essential job. 

The camp was safe, and COVID-19 did not seem to be affecting anyone for the first month and a half. Everyone wore masks, even outside in the blazing heat. Our boss would also sanitize everything with some fancy-looking hose. 

Then, around the middle of the summer, we had a positive COVID-19 case from one of the counselors. Every counselor got tested, and they shut the camp down for a week. 

This was the closest I came to catching the virus. 

A few children came back with (required) masks. After the positive case, parents were concerned. I had always felt safe, as counselors and staff were required to wear masks. I was concerned that all the children did not have masks.

I pushed that thought out of my head.  

Relieved to see that change and many parents’ concerns, l felt like it showed respect for the counselors and staff. I felt that the kids wearing masks protected us. 

But not all kids wore masks, and kids are hard to discipline. The ones who did have masks didn’t always wear them. Watching them look for their masks as they lost them about 10 times a day was pretty cute. 

“Where’s my mask, Miss Abby?” 

Despite the camp’s efforts to clean everything, limit the numbers, wear masks at all times and just generally protect against COVID-19, we did have a positive case. While one case is better than 10, it’s still not as good as no cases at all. 

Here’s what I learned: the virus is difficult to avoid. People who work should be cautious outside of work. They should be mindful of whatever they expose themselves to outside of work. 

I think everyone at work cared about each other, though. We were all friends, as most of us went to Bellaire or knew each other some other way. No one wanted camp to shut down again, and we all loved our kids. 

Wearing masks and practicing social distancing is vital to the safety of everyone, whether you believe in the virus or not. 

It’s not rocket science. 

It’s common decency and everyone should want to be an upstanding citizen and protect others. 

Masks do help. 

Complying with stores’ rules and regulations regarding masks is just simple respect.

It’s like if a store sign says “No shirt, no service.” Well, you would go inside with a shirt on, right? Same principle for masks. I just hoped all my co-workers felt the same way. 

Working during the pandemic was sometimes scary and stressful. My parents worried me by always planning for the worst, which I guess is good, but it was scary thinking about that happening if I just didn’t wash my hands for that extra couple of seconds at work.

I did love work, though. It was the main topic of my college essay. My love for kids and respect for parents grew more than I thought it could. 

Getting perler beads and pieces of paper with my name on it with one too many Bs made the stress all worth it. I would have been so bored all summer and definitely wouldn’t have gained all the patience I did from working with 20 kids at one time. 

I don’t know how parents do it. Some of the kids were crazy, especially during lunch. The 5-year-olds NEVER stopped playing with sticks and mud. 

I believe Camp Paseo tried its best to protect everyone. As time went on, I think the virus seemed less real to everyone. Many did not have a personal experience with the virus and did not see the precautions as necessary. 

I was relieved and a little surprised that Camp Paseo only had one positive case. 

Knowing restaurants are high-risk for COVID-19, I interviewed for the restaurant Buca di Beppo. I wanted extra money for college savings and was hired after my summer job ended. 

After much thought and a COVID-19 scare within my family, I did not take the job. I thought about how my family freaked out from my false-positive test. I did not want to take the chance of experiencing that freak out again.

I am ready to just chill at home.