Sticking to my usual early schedule, we arrived at the school around 6:30AM Saturday morning to begin preparation for the day to come. The past two weeks had been extremely busy with practicum, language classes, and immigration; but somehow we had been able to draw out a fairly thorough plan for our English Camp. Instead of working with the SMP we had taught at during practicum, we chose a SD (elementary school) local to our village; which was especially exciting because it ended up being the same school Fenia attends. We met a few times here and there the past weeks, brainstorming and meeting with the staff to see what type of support we’d need – our target audience roughly 100-120 students, 4th through 6th grade.
The theme for our camp was English Olympics, so we cut the school into six stations, three in classrooms and three outside where teams could compete in different games or participate in cultural activities. The students began to roll in around 7AM, and when I say roll in I mean all one hundred of them bombarded us at once. Our CF (cultural facilitator) along with the other trainees from my village set up tables by grade and tied different colored ribbon around the wrists of the children, evenly mixing boys and girls of different ages into teams. As they divvied up the kids into 12 groups, I took those who had finished and gathered them in a circle for a game of duck duck goose. You never know how dangerous a game duck duck goose has the potential to be until you play it on concrete with large group of children jacked on sugar.
Let the Games Begin
Divided into twelve teams, two groups made their way to each station; Station #1 being a cultural activity rather than a competition. Here students were met by O.C.M.S’s Wagon Wheel and got ready to shake a leg, well sort of. Our trainee introduced the kids to a country line dance, which I can’t comment too much on as I don’t know how to do it myself, but I’m sure the students were called upon as “y’all” more than a few times.
I was in charge of Station #2, the Reading Relay, which I think turned out to be the loudest of the six. The teams lined up on opposite sides of each other as each student stood by a number down the line. The game begins when I say go and the first in line begins. Flipping over slips of paper laid face down on the ground, shouting out the words on the opposite side before they can move to the next. Moving up the line they tag their teammates as they reach them until the last has finished the words in front of them. After they finish, the students switch places, add new words, and mix the existing words around before starting a new round, tallying points as we go to declare a winner at the end. Things went rather smooth up until about 10 when the wind rolled in, gusts sending papers flying across, skipping across the pavement, or diving into other station. Interrupted, kids sped to chase down the words, eager to win each round. Soon, after a few minutes of rock collecting, the problem was easily overcome.
Station #3 was the Whisper Game, which, as you can guess, took place inside. Here, the teams lined opposite each other, each student at the end being told a sentence which made its way silently to the front where it was to be written down. Several of us tried this game during practicum, it being a big hit; although it was always a bit difficult to control the volume. Who knew English could get kids so riled up? At the English Camp; however, the kids seemed to follow the rules fairly well, their leader stressing the necessity to WHIPSER in the whisper game.
Next on the list was Categories, a game you may remember playing in a pool with your friends growing up, except here swimming is substituted with running of course. The leader, in this case the trainee in charge of the station, tells the students a category. The kids gather together and discuss, each choosing a different word in the category (i.e. word for “fruit” would be “apple” “banana” or “pear”). Once everyone is ready the leader calls out different words in the category, students racing each other across the yard as they hear theirs called.
For Station #5, the kids got to get out of the sun and group inside for some traditional music – “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” of course! Apparently pitch doesn’t seem to be much of priority here as the guitar was wildly out of tune, but the students certainly didn’t seem to mind as they happily sang along with our trainee 🙂
The last, and what I consider my favorite station, was the Picture Relay, a fun activity we picked up from one of the current volunteers. Teams are divided into two, Describers and Drawers. The describers are led to one side where a picture hangs, they then have to run to a midpoint and describe the picture to the drawers who, you guessed it, draw – some of the finished products turning out better than the originals.
After each team had been to every station, each lasting thirty minutes, we tallied up the total points for each and held a small awards ceremony before the kids could run home for lunch. The top three teams received little goodie bags full of plastic dinosaurs, play cars, squeaky toys, and key chains. And everyone received a gold metal (made of chocolate), not excluding the teachers.
The camp was a great success and ran smoothly as planned, which is hard to accomplish on rubber time. Afterwards we sat down with the faculty and they shared their hopes to continue camps like this in the future. It was a great experience working with another school and all the kids in our little community; can’t wait to start another at my own site after PST!