Coming Back Home: Chantal Carriere-Khan Staff Spotlight
Jul. 13, 2018
After two great summers working as a waitress, bartender and housekeeper at Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge, Chantal Carriere-Khan decided it was time to “grow up” and enter the dreaded real world. She had just completed her degree in Psychology and it was time to say goodbye to the ultimate summer job of working at Aikens.
It was a classic “good for her, too bad for us” scenario since Chantal was a phenomenal team member who had established herself as a guest and staff favorite. As sad as we were to see her go, we were just as thrilled to welcome her back this year after a three-year hiatus.
“I had decided that it was time to buckle down and really figure out my career path after finishing my first degree in Psychology,” said Chantal. “I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do therefore I did some volunteering, some travelling and took a few classes, and finally realized that I wanted to go back to school for social work.”
Once she decided to go back to school for social work, she immediately realized her schedule would allow her the opportunity to return to her dream summer job of working at Aikens. To seal the deal, Chantal spoke with one of her best friends, Reanne, who had worked at Aikens for six years before similarly taking a few years off.
Chantal and Reanne (far left in above photo) both decided to return to the place they loved for one more summer stint.
“One of my favorite parts of being at Aikens is all the amazing relationships I have built throughout the years. Most of my good friends in life are from Aikens and I am very fortunate for that,” Chantal said. “You build so many memories up here but some of the best ones are when a bunch of us got on a few boats and tied them together for a burbot bite at night as we watched the sunset.”
Chantal has caught her fair share of burbot and walleyes, of course, but one of her missions this summer is to finally catch a lake trout – which has eluded her thus far. Spending evenings with friends on scenic Aikens Lake in Atikaki Provincial Park is always a highlight for Chantal.
“Going fishing with other people is so much more exciting because you feed on everyone’s energy, and everyone is just so happy to be here,” said Chantal. “There are many different activities to do also on our free time such as kayak, canoeing, going fishing, watching the amazing sunset and hanging out with great people. Can it get any better than that?”
The best part, for Chantal, is sharing the experiences with her Aikens friends.
“In general, the atmosphere at Aikens is a very enjoyable and fun environment. We all get to know each other pretty quickly therefore it’s like we become a family,” she said. “You work together, you are together after work and you are each other’s roommate for three months so friendships build up fast.”
This year, Chantal has a new position as hostess of our Great Gray Owl Outpost, our private mini-lodge across the lake (on a secluded beach) where groups of 6 to 12 can enjoy guided fishing, gourmet meals and a newly renovated two-story cabin in the woods.
“As a GGO hostess, we try and make the guests feel at home,” Chantal said, adding she is grateful for her co-host Jonny. “Every group is different therefore we try and accommodate them as best as we can and give them the best experience. When we arrive at night to make dinner, we make sure everything is set up for them so they can relax and have a few drinks before going straight to dinner.”
The role is a big responsibility, but we knew Chantal would thrive, and hosting at GGO has been a positive growth experience for her. While she was a strong staff member since Day 1, she has continually developed personally and professionally throughout her experiences at Aikens and has come a long ways since her first day here (pictured below).
“Since coming back to Aikens this time around, I’ve learned to take more initiative,” Chantal said. “At first I was still learning and new to things but now I know what needs to be done and when to do it so things are a lot more efficient. Also, getting to know the guests are a big part of the job. We are able to build friendships with guests also which is so great because there are so many amazing people that come visit and it’s always so exciting seeing returning guest!”
Naturally, our entire Aikens team was extremely excited to see Chantal return this summer.
“Chantal’s terrific – she works very hard and does an outstanding job,” Julie said. “All of our guides were returning this year, but we had almost all new female staff so it was extra helpful to have Chantal here to help at the start of the season. She knows the routine, she knows how we like to operate and how we do lots of little things to give guests the best possible experience. Chantal helped a lot with our new staff this year.”
Chantal also has a word of advice for prospective new staff at Aikens.
“If you’re considering applying to work at Aikens, do not hesitate like I did, because I wish I could have been here for more years!” Chantal said. “How much better does it get? You get to fish, do many outdoor activities, experience amazing sunsets, and the best part, you meet amazing people who become your family.”