- Associated Press - Saturday, July 12, 2014

LOVES PARK, Ill. (AP) - Patrice Davis hopes to spend the next few decades helping people stay well as a pharmacist.

Delivering “service with a smile” - a skill to aid her in almost any career - is something she’s picked up from her summer job at Volcano Falls.

The 23-year-old Davis has been working at the area’s largest mini-putt/go kart/laser tag attraction since she was 15. The Auburn High School and Rock Valley College graduate now is a student at University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy at Rockford.

“Customer service skills isn’t something they teach you in school,” Davis said. “When I started here I was so quiet and shy and afraid to talk to people. I’ve learned how to be approachable, how to ask people about their day, see if there’s anything they need.”

Volcano Falls opened in 2002 off East Riverside Boulevard and Interstate 90. Along with Magic Waters in Cherry Valley, it is the most visible entertainment venue along I-90 in the Rock River Valley. General manager Tony Meyer has run it since it opened and says it averages about 65,000 visitors a year. It’s a mix of local customers - families, summer camp groups - along with traffic from the interstate or athletes in for the various summer youth soccer/softball/baseball tournaments.

“We’ve had teams here from as far away as California,” Meyer said.

Davis said the fact Volcano Falls is a big day out for families is what she likes most about the job.

“It’s not every day they can do go-carts and mini golf,” she said. “I’m really happy when I can make a child smile. I’ll have people recognize me because I worked a birthday party and it lets me know it was a memorable experience.”

The toughest times are holidays, such as Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.

“We get so busy that people have to wait,” she said. “Then just personally seeing families spending time together. I’d like to be with my family and instead I’m working. That can be hard.”

But the payoff outweighs the negatives.

“We’re open from March to November, so it really fits well with my school schedule,” she said. “Now, I’ve been here so long, I’m kind of a mentor to the younger kids. We talk about schools and things going on in their lives. This has been a great experience.”

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Source: Rockford Register-Star, https://bit.ly/TP5A8V

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