- Amanda Brown, recreation major
Above: Amanda Brown, left, and Ellyn Ackerlund, recreation majors stand before the Great Buddha in Kamakura during their summer internship with Camp Adventure in Japan.
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Having It All: Travel, Experience and College Credit in Japan
Written by Amanda Cairo
Like many students, Cascade’s Amanda Brown headed off to summer camp during her summer break. The difference is that the senior recreation major headed off to Japan to work with children at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan through Camp Adventure.
“It really set in stone how much I want to do this; it reassured me what I’m doing with my major,” says Brown. “This is something that is productive, and it affects the youth and the greater community.”
Brown spent four weekends this past spring preparing for the adventure during four intensive training weekends – also learning CPR and first-aid – before she headed off to Yokosuka, about two hours south of Tokyo, for 11 weeks, June 4 – Aug. 21.
Brown says Japan wasn’t her first choice, but she wanted to be placed with her Idaho roommate Ellynn Ackerlund, also a recreation major. As she spent more time travelling around and getting to know the culture and youths, she felt it was the right decision.
“It was so amazing, a great opportunity,” says Brown. “I really enjoyed everything about the experience and Japan.”
Brown worked eight hours a day, five days a week during camp, but in the evenings and on the weekends, she and the other coaches headed into the city or around the country.
“We went out every weekend and saw a different place each time,” says Brown. “I took full advantage of the experience.”
Some of those experiences that stood out for Brown were climbing Mount Fuji and visiting the Golden Temple in Kyoto. As they traveled, Brown says people were extremely friendly and helpful, despite the language barrier. Luckily, Brown says, they never got on the wrong train and always made it back to the base every Sunday.
At camp, Brown and the other coaches worked with children of military families at a day camp, teaching them athletic skills and teamwork. Brown says they worked with children on skills, like playing catch before playing a game of flag football, as well as played with them
“We tried to participate with the kids as much as possible – it helped with the kids’ participation,” says Brown, adding it was more fun that way. “It helped us give them more one-on-one time.”
In addition to a different culture, Brown also had to get used to a different weather system. She says there were black flag days where they couldn’t do activities outside, or red flag days that restricted outdoor activities. While it was a new concept, she saw the benefits and also learned about taking care of the whole body, not just activity.
Brown not only was rewarded with great experience, she was paid a stipend, airplane ticket and housing – in addition to college credit. She earned 12 credit through the University of Northern Iowa and nine credits from the University of Idaho.
“It was so rewarding to work every day with these kids; I loved every part of it,” says Brown. “The credit was an amazing bonus.”
After she graduates in May, Brown is looking to work for the military’s Morale Welfare and Recreation office – through which Camp Adventure partners with – or for the National Park Service doing interpretive hikes.
Camp Adventure: www.uni.edu/campadv/
Recreation degree: www.uidaho.edu/ed/hperd/bsrec
College of Education: www.uidaho.edu/ed