When I was trying to figure out my summer plans I realized that even though I needed a job, but I really didn't want to grow up. So I decided to work at a summer camp. I applied and was hired by a YoungLife Summer Camp in Missouri. Anxious to see what I would be working, I found out I would be assigned to the kitchen as a PM cook. I'm not a cook, but little did I know what an amazing month it would be. Here are a few things that I learned from working in the kitchen:

1. Everyone is jealous of the kitchen staff (kind of)

Nothing is nicer then being in air conditioning during a hot Southern Missouri day. It was the best thing in the world. People would try to get out of work by helping us out in the kitchen (they just wanted to be in the AC).  When we needed to wake up in the mornings, we’d just go stand in the freezer (I swear nothing will wake you up more then that). Another highlight of being in the kitchen is the leftovers (brownies, big cookies, spaghetti, French toast). Working in the kitchen has its ups and downs, but the AC makes up for the stress.

2. You learn how to make all the delicious stuff

Chick-fil-A sauce, amazing cheese dip, breakfast pizza—I learned how to make it all. Honestly though, learning what goes into some of the food and drinks we consume was an eye opener. I can’t even describe the moment I poured 19 cups of sugar into sweet tea. It was never ending. Granted, it was like 20-25 gallons of tea, but man it was so much.

3. You really need to have team work in the kitchen

This is a must. You need team work when working in a kitchen. It's just better all around, you can get things done faster, be on the same page, and overall have a better day if you work together. Nothing is more stressful than realizing you just finished something that someone else already has done. You can’t get everything done without good communication and working together. Help each other out and discuss everything you need to do that day to prep a meal.

4. Get along with everyone

Okay, well you don’t have to get along with everyone you work with, but you need to at least talk and be on the same page. God tested me this summer with who I worked with. I loved my team, but sometimes our personalities clashed and it wouldn’t end well. One thing that really needs to be taken away from this is that you might not get along with everyone, but you need to be on the same page and get along well when working together. If not, it can just be awkward for the other people you work with.

5. Sometimes all you need is to have fun

Some of my favorite memories are of when we are having fun in the kitchen. From food fights to dancing and singing our lungs out to every Spotify playlist that was ever made ("Come on Eileen" will always have a special place in my heart). Or when we would play a game where you had to grab a kitchen utensils and keep the ball in the air. First to fail to keep it in the air is out. And yes, it is taken very seriously in the kitchen.

6. Be independent

Once I got back from camp, I felt like I could make anything and everything in the world. It was the best feeling ever. I was a Paula in the making. I can’t count how many times my mom and grandparents asked me to make dinner for them. I’ve never felt more adult and independent in my life.

7. I am a night person and NOT a morning person

I was #blessed to have been a PM cook and not an AM cook. I am not a morning person, especially not in the summer. On Friday’s, we would have to get up early, and that reassured me that I am NOT a morning person. Keep me late at night to clean up anytime and any day, but get me there in the morning and we might have an issue.

8. It’s fine to mess up

I remember the first time I messed up. I was so nervous because I wanted to be perfect and get everything done fast. Well, perfect isn’t a real thing. We are humans and we all makes mistakes. That’s life. I learned that it was completely fine if I messed up. No one is going to kill you or yell at you. Just clean up and do what you were supposed to have done first.

Those are a few life lessons I learned from working in the kitchen at a summer camp. It was one of the most amazing and rewarding summers I’ve ever had in my life. If anyone is thinking about working at a summer camp or in the kitchen at one, I strongly advise it. I have countless memories from it that I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life.