Posted July 3, 2012 by Missy Burgess 

Recharging My Batteries

Inspired by Erin Morell’s post, I was challenged to think about those moments when I am fully engaged in the experience, when the buzzing and being of technology cannot or do not interrupt the experience. For me, these experiences, both personal and professional, are times that I describe as “good for my soul” or “bucket-fillers.”

For the last nine years, I have participated in an event called Camp Merrytimes. “Camp,” as I simply refer to it, is a four-day camp for children with cancer and their siblings in western North Carolina. The counselor-to-child ratio is 1:1, and for those four days, I get to live life through the eyes of four- to seven-year-old with the purpose of making dreams come true.

For my first few years, there was no cell phone service for this rustic adventure, so I had no opportunity to stay connected with “real-life.” Now, technology has advanced to the point where my smart phone does work, but I have made the intentional choice not to even look at it. I know that I can’t if I want to remain engaged in the experience, and I owe it to my camper (and to myself) to do that. My friends and I have made a pact that we don’t talk about work from the time we drive into camp until the time we drive out. While challenging for the student affairs professionals I travel with, this opportunity to put worries and concerns aside helps me to realize four days later that they may not have been as significant as I once thought. In my world, camp is equally or more important than any other holiday on the calendar. My friends and colleagues know that I start counting down in January, when it’s particularly cold in North Dakota, for the third week in May.

Professionally, these fully engaged moments have often come in those meaningful conversations with students, sometimes expected but often unexpected. One of the best opportunities to experience this was granted to me by ACUI; I was chosen to serve as a small-group facilitator for I-LEAD in 2011. It was truly an incredible experience. Meaningful conversations and connections happened throughout the week with students and colleagues; and in such a short time, I truly got to witness students’ lives change. At the end of the week, I was more physically tired than I had ever been after advising many students at conferences, but professionally, I was recharged with a reminder of why I love our profession. I have never had a comparable professional development opportunity. Those who know me well would tell you that I am too connected to email on a daily basis. I realized just how engaging the I-LEAD experience was when after nine days, I had sent just four emails, including the one to my supervisor to thank her for the time away to have the experience.

What are those moments for you? When are you so engaged that the everyday stresses seem less significant?

While it sometimes seems overwhelming to take five or nine days off work for my opportunities, the payback is worth it. My challenge is recognizing the recharging, “good-for-the-soul” moments on an everyday basis. How can I be fully engaged in what I am doing to make the most impact on the students with whom I am working?


 

Missy Burgess

Missy Burgess is the Associate Director for Student Involvement at University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh.

Missy supervises student leadership and involvement staff in the Reeve Memorial Union, including volunteer service, student organizations and emerging programs, Reeve Union Board, leadership, diversity and inclusion, and greek life. She holds a bachelor’s from Southern Illinois University–Edwardsville, a master’s from Kansas State University, and a Ph.D. in educational leadership from the University of North Dakota.

Comments

Thanks for the mention Missy! It's great to hear that you have the opportunity to engage without your "technology" sometimes and it really makes the experience more worth while!
Comment posted 07/04/2012 11:09 AM
Note: To post a comment to The Commons, you must login to the ACUI website.
about the commons
The Commons is the online hub to discover new ideas and learn what is going on in the college union and student activities profession.
more ...
about the contributors

Meet the ACUI members who have volunteered to share their knowledge and insights as regular authors in The Commons.

more ...