Sabbaticals… the good, the bad, and the downright awesome

Before I delve into this blog, I’ll give you a clue where I’m typing this post from… I’m sat in a row of three seats, two strangers next to me, a small window at the side, and the sound of a little trolley coming towards us. You’ve guessed it, I’m on an aeroplane, coming back from a three-month sabbatical spent in the USA.

There have been many nerve-wracking moments working at Wolfstar, pitching for new business, hosting press events and running social media campaigns, but nothing has come close to asking my bosses for a sabbatical. What will they say? Will they be mad? Will they say no?

It wasn’t just the thought of asking for the time off that got my adrenaline pumping, it was the thought of leaving the faces I was so used to seeing every day for the last four years, the clients I’d built great relationships with, and the journalist contacts I’d spent so much time getting to know. So why did I do it? One word… experience.

It all started back in December last year, when I was approached by Camp Tel Noar, an American Jewish summer camp, which contacted me about a new role within the camp for a Social Media Coordinator. Social media… in America… beside a lake… for the whole summer? It sounded like a dream come true and an opportunity that couldn’t be passed up. And that’s just what Wolfstar thought too. A few months later, my bags were packed, my handover was prepared, my out-of-office was on, and it was off to the airport I went.

The first thing everyone has asked when I mentioned my sabbatical is “and your work were okay with that?!”, and I can’t blame them for asking. Letting me swan off for three months in the USA, crazy right? Well, maybe it was not so crazy after all.

Granted there was a lot in it for me, over the last three months (two spent at camp and one month travelling) I’ve made friends for life, visited the jaw-dropping views of the Grand Canyon, tasted gumbo in New Orleans, seen the bright lights of Vegas and New York, and tested my driving skills from San Francisco to LA but, most importantly gained confidence, independence and made memories to last a lifetime. But what was in it for Wolfstar? Well… quite a lot as well really.

Over the last 14 weeks, I’ve spent the summer improving my social media skills immensely. Usually, a client provides you with all the imagery and video you require for social content, but this doesn’t happen at camp. At camp you become your own photographer, videographer and interviewer, something which I’m sure will be of great use at our next press event.

Each day at camp I would spend my time visiting the different activities, capturing key footage for Instagram and Facebook Stories, while collecting relevant photography and video to update the main channels. Each week I pulled together a weekly blog, uploading it to WordPress – a programme which I hadn’t used prior to camp, and worked with my team to create weekly highlights videos. Each of these activities required me to uncover the special moments and stories that occurred around camp, something which we all know also links in with Public Relations.

Obviously, there are cons with allowing an employee to take a sabbatical – what about all the work they’re going to leave behind? What if they like it so much and want to stay out there? What will clients say? Well, of course it can be a risk, but from first-hand experience I know it’s a risk that can certainly pay off, and for weeks to come you can certainly guarantee I will be filled with an extra dash of enthusiasm and creativity.

In the words of America, it’s been an “awesome” experience.