Josiah Finley, 2019 Birch Tribal Director
In 2018 I needed a summer internship as part of the requirements for my Religion Minor at (the) Appalachian State University. I also knew that I had missed Rockmont like crazy in 2017 when I made the decision to not come back, and instead do an internship in Raleigh NC. After talking to my advisor at App State, and a couple of religion professors I was close to, it seemed possible for me to come to Rockmont on staff and also have a religious internship. The school’s requirements were for my advisor to file paperwork that formalized the internship. Next, the Religion department chair needed to sign off on it. Finally, I needed a religious professor who would agree to sponsor me and I needed to find a staff member at Rockmont to be my supervisor.
I found a professor at App that I was close with and trusted to work with me throughout the process. I then asked Shawn Marler to be my supervisor. Because this class counted for class credit I had to have all the paperwork (there wasn’t very much of it) done before registration for summer classes closed. As the summer drew closer, Shawn and I crafted a plan for what we wanted the internship to look like. My professor wanted to make sure that I accomplished my requirements, but put faith in me to get everything done and return all of my information when the Fall semester began.
Shawn and I decided to focus on Religious leadership. This meant looking at leadership, religious institutions (Rockmont was our case study), and learning about all of the behind the scenes work. We also read a book and would meet once a week to discuss it. The book was “Surprised by Hope” by NT Wright. Other than reading that, I did a lot of work with Staff Church. This meant writing and reading different liturgical elements, planning the order of the service and getting people to fill the roles, and even writing and delivering a sermon at Staff Church for Classic 3. I also took the strengths-finder test to learn about my leadership style. And later in the summer I helped lead a Java and Jesus.
In the Fall semester I took the recording of my sermon to my professor. He reviewed it and then we discussed my internship. At the end of the conversation, he got on his computer, changed the Incomplete grade to a Pass grade, and that was the end of it. I had to be proactive on the front end to make this work. Advisors and especially professors are very busy, but after the initial groundwork was built, the rest of the process was easy.
The internship definitely made my summer more full. It required extra work on top of being a Counselor, but to this day it was one of the crucial parts of the most impactful summer of my life. Engaging in a mentor relationship with a staff member I loved and trusted was special. The fact I got an internship and six credit hours checked off was just gravy. The internship allowed me to see another layer of camp, and was a big part of my decision to come back in 2019 as a Tribal Director.