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Cailsen Lackey Provides Inclusive Summer Camp Experiences

Cailsen Lackey holds a climbing rope - Cailsen Lackey Provides Inclusive Summer Camp Experiences - College of Natural Resources at NC State University
Cailsen Lackey holds a climbing rope for a camper at Victory Junction. Photo provided

This article is part of the Not Your Average Summer series highlighting the internship experiences of both undergraduate and graduate students from the NC State College of Natural Resources.

Cailsen Lackey recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in parks, recreation and tourism management. This summer, Lackey served as an adventure counselor at Victory Junction in Randleman, North Carolina.

Victory Junction is a camp for children ages 6-16 with chronic medical conditions or serious illnesses. The camp aims to provide life-changing camping experiences that are exciting, fun and empowering. Activities range from arts and crafts to archery and horseback riding.

Check out the Q&A below to learn more about Lackey’s experience at Victory Junction and the role of the College of Natural Resources in preparing her for the internship.

What kinds of things did you do during your internship?

As an adventure counselor, I facilitated climbs on a 55-foot alpine tower and ran the accessible swing and zipline. In addition to running my program area, I supported co-counselors and campers in my cabin by engaging with campers in different program areas, providing personal care for campers, handling any behavioral challenges, and more. For my project, I updated Victory Junction’s risk assessment sheet for each of their program areas, which include a water park, indoor baseball field, lake, adventure tower, bowling alley, and more. I spotted potential risks and suggested possible solutions.

How did you find out about this internship and why were you interested in it?

I grew up close to Randleman, North Carolina, so I’ve always known about Victory Junction. I was interested in becoming an intern at Victory Junction because I wanted to be immersed in a camp where disabilities and illnesses do not define or hold back campers. This proved to be a transformative summer and I’ll take all I learned to future positions in hopes that more recreational sites can be more adaptive and inclusive. 

How did the College of Natural Resources prepare you for this internship?

Each of my classes helped equip me with the knowledge I needed to be successful in both this internship and future professional endeavors. I think the most important way that the college prepared me was by forcing me to work on a team with different people on different projects. These projects throughout my time at NC State prepared me for collaborative environments.

What are your long-term goals and how did this internship factor in?

I would love to continue working in adaptive recreation, providing recreational opportunities to people who have historically been excluded from them. I’m also interested in environmental education and working with children and senior citizens. This internship helped me gain adaptive recreation experience in a variety of recreation settings. It also gave me the opportunity to practice risk management and to see how a special camp like Victory Junction operates.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned while at NC State?

The most important thing I learned at NC State is that education is not confined to the classroom. I loved that my courses in the Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management program often had myself and classmates exploring different parks, museums, historical sites and more. These experiences made me realize that I’m not only capable of learning in different environments but that I actually thrive learning in different places. This mindset can help me in my journey as a lifelong learner exploring different places.