University of Vermont

Michael Franck, Environmental Education Program Director at Camp Ketcha in Maine

Undergraduate student internship

Michael Franck
Michael Franck

For the past three summers, I’ve had the privilege of directing the environmental education program at Camp Ketcha in Scarborough, Maine.  Upon being requested back to continue directing the program this past summer, it dawned on me as the perfect opportunity to try and swing a Rubenstein School internship.  Earn credits, money for school, and further develop practice as an outdoor educator?  Count me in! 

As program director, I’ve had the responsibility of providing campers with hands-on, environmentally-based lessons on a variety of different subjects, including basic biological/ecological concepts, sustainability, conservation, and small-scale community gardening.  My main objective in pursuing the internship through the Rubenstein School was to broaden the scope of my teaching methods and build on past experiences in as many ways as possible.

In the process of expanding my teaching repertoire, I was given the task of completing field entries in a journal periodically throughout the week.  Through numerous reflections designed to emphasize the effectiveness of specific activities, I was able to tweak my plans more frequently and suitably than ever before.  By constantly utilizing my reflective lens, I was able to squeeze the most out of each week and provide campers with an experience that felt worthwhile. 

I achieved a diversity of activities that my two previous summers could not hold a candle to.  This included practicing and establishing nature awareness, sensory expansion, animal forms, and gardening etiquette and care, with an exciting collection of activities in the form of scavenger hunts, games that emphasized predator vs. prey relationships and food chains, blindfolded drum walks, composting methods, bird skits, and much, much more.

I learned that providing an exemplary environmental education camp experience to children, one that is designed to foster ecologically-conscious minds as early as possible, takes a lot of pre-planning, dedication, and sleep.  My Rubenstein internship experience provided the backbone for all of my planning; compelling me to take things further than I thought I was capable. 

In terms of tips for future interns, because the internship program is highly self-designed, it takes a fair amount of dedication and commitment to propel oneself to new heights – but it’s so worth it!  With the right amount of work ethic and ingenuity, you’ll be sure to come out with a newfound sense of wisdom and satisfaction you never thought was possible.