A day in the life: Joel Ryan

Kids staying at Beaches Resorts can meet characters from Sesame Street. Ben Ireland speaks to Joel Ryan, who oversees the activities and experiences

Talk us through your typical day….
The Kids Camp staff start at 7am when we check the guests’ logbook and babysitting log. Working through the day ahead, we ensure activities are set up with a balanced ratio of children to counsellors and that Sesame Street characters are ready before we open at 8am. We meet parents and children when they arrive, ensure they understand the checking-in process and have everything they need. We also ask parents to make recommendations about their little ones, like a hobby they enjoy and offer suggestions for activities they can do as a couple (parents need to enjoy their holiday as well!). We also arrange lunchtime activities, dining programs for the younger guests and babysitters for the evening.

What skills are important?
Connecting with our guests is very important, for example being at the entrance of camp as parents arrive. We get to know parents and children, interacting and observing how the kids behave as they arrive.

You have Sesame Street characters at Beaches resorts. What activities do they do?
Our Caribbean Adventures with Sesame Street programme offers more than 40 signature Sesame Street character-inspired activities that engage learning through fun, role play and interaction – from baking with the Cookie Monster or making music with Elmo.

Talk us through the Sesame Street connection…
Our Sesame Street partnership has been at Beaches Resorts for almost 15 years and combines fun and learning together with discovery and adventure. Some are included in the Beaches Resorts’ luxury included® package while others can be added through upgrade packages, such as character breakfasts, bedtime tuck-ins and catamaran cruises with Sesame Street Characters.

Julia is Sesame Street’s first autistic character and has been introduced at some resorts. How has it helped children learn about autism?
Julia promotes awareness and acceptance to combat the stigma and isolation experienced by children with autism. Julia has her own activity, Amazing Art with Julia, which allows children to express themselves and celebrate their uniqueness. All Beaches Resorts have been autism certified. This reassures parents that all Kids’ Camp staff and resort team members have received training in the areas of autism and other cognitive disorders.

Before I worked for Beaches Resorts…
I worked with pre-schoolers and at Disney Cruise Line.

I became a Kids Camp manager because…
I wanted to make a difference to the lives of as many children as possible. Kids’ Camp managers do more than just look after the guests’ children, we are entrusted with their safety and care.

The most rewarding part of my job is…
Seeing parents satisfied with our service and care of their little ones.

The most common thing I am asked is…
Who is the most popular Sesame Street Character? It’s almost impossible to answer as this as every child who walks through our doors has a different preference. Some will love nature, and look up to Big Bird, while others may enjoy cooking, and aspire to be just like the Cookie Monster.

When I’m not working at Beaches, I like to spend my time…
Working with unattached children in my community. I helped set up an initiative called Project Yourself to get children aged six – 12 years off the street and into the classroom. It offers safe spaces in the community with classes such as drama and dance.

What would you take to a desert island?
The Fuzzy and the Techie, by Scott Hartley

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