In 2009, Cayla Thomlinson, an undergraduate communication major with a passion for photography, was looking for an internship. Mike Gullett, her photojournalism instructor, suggested checking out Camp Barnabas, a Christian camp for kids with special needs. It's an experience that has not only helped Cayla grow professionally, but personally, as well.
"The most satisfying thing about my job, the part that never fails to make me smile, is the campers," Thomlinson said. "They are awesome, and to meet any of these amazing kids would change your life. To know that my job is important to them is satisfying enough, but to realize that the photos and videos I produce help to create awareness for camp and increase the chances of more kids with disabilities can make it to camp is that much better!"
Over the past two summers, Thomlinson has served as the camp photographer, helped transport campers to and from the site and is a member of what she calls the "techie" team. She has photographed activities ranging from archery and horseback riding to field games, parties and swimming. This summer, she produced an award-winning video. As a member of the camp support staff, Thomlinson lived in the cabins with the campers.
Donna Robertson, the camp storyteller, said she has enjoyed working with Thomlinson and see her grow.
"Cayla is an extremely talented young woman and watching her see how those talents can be used in ways she's never thought of and for purposes that are outside her box is a true pleasure," Robertson said. "It has been quite some time since I've been able to collaborate with someone as gifted as she is."
This fall Thomlinson is back on campus, where she is a graduate teaching assistant in the Communication Department. She expects to share much of what she has learned through her work at Camp Barnabas with a new crop of students.
"I'm very grateful for everything I learned in the broadcasting and photojournalism areas of the Communication Department," Thomlinson said. "I'm eager to share that with new students in the program."
For more about the PSU Department of Communication: http://www.pittstate.edu/department/communication/
For more about Camp Barnabas: http://www.campbarnabas.org/