Published on November 25, 2013 | by Jack Davis

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Long summer? Coach your way out of boredom

James Francois and a group of the children he coached during the summer

James Francois with six of the children he coached during his USA summer break [photo: Jacob Longmore]

Trying to fill the long summer vacation is a problem for some students, as they find themselves at a loss as to what to do with all their spare time.

Some find themselves stuck with a boring job just passing the time by, where others struggle to even find themselves a job due to the current economic times.

University student James Francois found himself travelling across the United States and Canada.

The business student, who is now in his final year at Bath Spa University,was dissatisfied with the prospect of spending his holiday at home and scoured the internet in hope of finding something more positive to do.

The answer came in the form of coaching children at summer camps in North America.

James Francois, 24, said: “After searching the net for several hours I kind of gave up hope of finding something interesting to do because I limited my search to the UK, but once I expanded my search further afield the amount of opportunities I found really surprised me!”

Francois added: “From supervising in summer camps, to doing charity work across Asia and even working in a zoo as far away as Australia, I really started to feel I had wasted my previous summer holidays.

“I then came across the soccer coaching across the States and Canada, which was perfect for me due to my love of soccer and working with children, so I filled out a quick application and it really just snowballed from there really.”

After his application had been successful the Bath Spa student went on to attend an in-depth interview that included showcasing his skills as a potential coach, and a face-to-face discussion with a course leader.

Intense

Coming prepared was key as the student had to put on a full training session for other would-be applicants in front of the watchful eyes of his potential employers.

“The interview process was pretty nerve–wracking if I’m honest, the one on one discussion was pretty intense and I really had to demonstrate my passion for coaching which was quite difficult with no real previous experience of coaching,” Francois said.

“Then the training session which to say least was kind of embarrassing due to the fact that my training session was obviously aimed towards children but I had to perform to people of my own age group.”

He passed and the dream of finally travelling to the US was on its way to becoming a reality, but the student was surprisingly thankful he had worked for most his second year at university as there was a flight, insurance and a visa to pay for, which came to around £700.

Explore

The soccer enthusiast set off to San Francisco, where he was paired up with another coach: “Having a hired car to travel around with was pretty cool as on our days off we were able to explore and have some fun, on the plus side I got really well with the guy I was partnered with too,” he said.

“I was quite nervous before meeting the people I’d be staying with because they were welcoming me into their home and I was made welcome particularly the first set who I’ve still remained in contact with” Francois added.

Once the coaching began, the Bath Spa student quickly realised how rewarding it was to work with children, and just how well behaved the children were.

The third year business student is now wondering if he’d like his future employment to involve working with children, a far cry from his previous dream of being a trouble-shooter for major businesses.

The student felt he learned many valuable skills not only with children but social skills due to the fact that he was constantly moving and meeting new people.

Being away from home for two months was also a positive learning curve for James as he’d only been away from his family whilst studying and then was only a car journey away from home.

The student added: “I’m not going to lie – for the first week or so I was a bit homesick, but the families I stayed with made me feel so welcome that I kind felt like a small part of their family for the brief time I was there.”

Travels

Over the two months James visited San Francisco, Boston, New York and Vancouver taking in beautiful scenery and iconic sites such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Vancouver Art Gallery and even watching an ice hockey game at the home of the Vancouver Canucks.

“The trip as a whole was arguably the best decision I’ve ever made and I’ve meet so many great people. I’d recommend the trip to anyone but especially students who are sitting at home just twiddling their thumbs at home,” said Francois.

“Upon completing my degree I’m definitely looking to go back and this time for six months as two months just wasn’t enough time, the experience definitely changed my perspective on life and I can see myself going down a much different route” he said.

 

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