Between July 21 and 23, Southwest Airlines hosted the first-ever Southwest Summer Camp--a summer camp for the high school-aged children of Employees. It was a fun week of career development and making new friends from all over the country, whose parents work in all areas of Southwest. Here’s a Q & A with camper De Jai Bell about her experience at Southwest Summer Camp.How did you hear about camp? What made you want to attend?
Like most of the other campers, I heard about camp from my parents. My dad, who has been with Southwest (Dallas Maintenance) for 13 years, came home with the information and we started applying. We were always hoping for an opportunity like this to come along and I’m so thankful and excited that I was able to attend. I’ve always liked Southwest and admired the spirit that runs throughout the Company. I wanted to attend because this would be the first year this opportunity was offered, and I wanted to see if the Company was really as great as my parents portrayed it to be.
What was the best part about camp?
The best part of camp for me was the activities we did with our pods. The first day, we made dog toys as a mini-service project. On the second day, we built a bridge out of pencils. On our last day, we played the airline game. My favorite activity of the three was making the bridge—not because we won, but because we each had different ideas and were able to work together to create a durable bridge with the amount of inventory we were given. The camp as a whole was great, but the most important memory that I’ll take away will be the support of my team, the Rising Educated Dreamers (team R.E.D). I’ve never gotten so close with complete strangers.
What areas of the business did you not know much about prior to camp, but now might have an interest in?
I didn’t know how important Customer Service was at Southwest. I thought they just sat at counters and solved Customers’ issues all day. I learned that there is so much more to it. I also learned there’s a job at Southwest in which you contact Employees all day long wishing them a happy birthday or get well soon. I am interested in Internal Customer Care, because that is where Southwest gets to express its love and care for their Employees; I want to be a part of that passion.
What are your plans for college? How will what you learned at camp steer you at college?
I plan on majoring in Business when I go to college. I learned about the College Internship program at camp and I plan on coming back to intern at Southwest!
What did you take away from the experience?
What I took most from the experience was the passion of Southwest Airlines for their Customers and Employees, and how they Live the Southwest Way through their Warrior Spirit, Servant’s Heart, and Fun-LUVing Attitudes. This spirit is shown on and off the clock! I also learned about possible career fields that I may be interested in, and which job opportunities best fit me at Southwest.
What would you tell a friend about camp?
I would share that Southwest Employees, even behind the scenes, make everyone feel warm and welcome. It is like a big extended family environment. I’d tell them I walked away with not only a greater sense of appreciation of Southwest Airlines, but I made wonderful new friendships. I would let them know that the true Southwest Spirit is “hospitality starts at home”and that the LUV is real on the “field” and off.
For more photos and behind-the-scenes from Southwest Summer Camp, check out the #SouthwestCamp hashtag feed to see tweets from campers, parents, and pod leaders!