Oita- First 3-Day Camp Session

So the day after arriving at the heaven we call Global Arena, we re-packed our things and left for our first 3-day camp session in Oita- a three-hour drive to the other side of Kyushu.

The drive was long but luckily we had a 30-minute break to go to a shopping mall and to buy some lunch. I was so intrigued by the mall and I wish we had more time to shop. I did however have a chance to buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (the book), and some McDonalds (both pictures in “Food” and “I solemnly swear that I am up to no good.” I tried to stay awake for most of our drive in order to embrace the scenery. Here are a few pictures of the drive:

Japan is surrounded by mountains, most actually tiny islands (there are over 4,000 in Japan)

Rice Fields, all over Kyushu

No Idea…

Beautiful ocean view

A Japanese Cemetery, actually quite small because a single cemetery consists usually of an entire family from generations and generations back, as Japan is well, OLD. Compare that to America, only 235 years old. How awesome would it be to find your 20x great-grandfather’s grave? 

Rooftops in Japan look like this.

Oita camp itself was beautiful. Basically it was a gym facility, on top of the ocean, which was a gorgeous view, very picturesque.  Needless to say we took a few photos:

Awesome playground/obstacle course. The first thing that was said to us is that Oita is filled with killer bees, and that they were attracted to our blue shirts.

Planetarium where we had a free screening (in Japanese)

Welcome to Oita!

Here’s our view. Here I am with one of my good friends Sara.

The building where most of our activities were held…sans AC

Our view from the second floor!

It was overall a decent place to stay, except for the fact that there was NO air conditioning! Our room was 91 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) Not cool! (no pun intended).

Our room/ my bed above. The day we arrived we were given a speech by the owner instructing specifics on how to fold our bed sheets each and every morning. Please see my Bath/Shower blog for additional pictures of the bathhouse. They were fine but not as nice as Global Arena’s. 

We arrived that first night, prepped, and then the kids (middle school aged 14-15) arrived at 11:30 the next day by bus. Our first order of business: screaming and running towards the buses with the utmost enthusiasm to greet the campers! We were assigned a letter group (I was Q) and we had to hold up our pre-made letter signs to greet the campers.

Two of my good friends on the trip Erin and Sara holding up their signs

Waiting for campers! The guy in the sunglasses is Sean (25), our American Director (AD).

Then, the campers switched into their inside shoes, were shown their rooms, unpacked, and changed out of their school uniforms. We met in the gym in our groups, and did introductions, as I explained in the American Fiesta blog. Additionally, the campers had a chance to introduce themselves. Finally, we had to make up a name and cheer to introduce our letter groups. Ours ended up being:

 The Questions

Me: We are the questions!
Group: We are the questions!
Me: Mighty, Mighty Questions
Group: Mighty, Mighty Questions


Then it was lunch time. I explained the lunch process in my previous Food blog. Next we broke out into activity groups. Groups Q, R, S, and T were placed in a separate room, where we started 1-minute drill. 1-minute drill is basically an exercise written by Guy Healy (the creator of USA Summer Camp). Basically, the goal is for the students to be able to say as many English phrases as possible during 1 minute by the end of day three. We are free to teach this activity as we like. Basically, we are given a sheet with a bunch of random phrases on it, such as “Hello,” “How are you?” and “This is my first time to Japan.” To start, I read each sentence, and then my students repeated it to me. Then we worked on meaning (for example I would ask them, “Do you know what ‘thirsty’ means?” or they would ask me, “What does ‘Take it easy’ mean?” Next, I had them come up with some of their own phrases at the bottom of the page. For example, “I have curly hair,” “I have a younger brother,” “My favorite subject is French,” or “Christmas is my favorite holiday.” Finally, I had them work in pairs and by themselves to time each other and to practice on their own; meanwhile I made my way to each person in my group and worked with them individually. At the end, we had a little time so we had a Q and A session, where they could ask me questions, and vice-versa. The most common question the girls asked me was, “Do you have a boyfriend?”(LOL)

During our breaks between activities, I took some pictures from the upstairs window in the room where we worked… beautiful view of the ocean and Japanese national flag.

The view every time we stepped outside.

Our next activity was “My Story.” For this activity, I was with group S, and the object of the activity is for them to write 10-15 sentences about themselves (or a fictional character) in English. At the end of day 3, they are to recite their story to the entire group (110 students) memorized. Today we just worked on ideas; I had them think of things they would like to write about themselves, and then they worked on forming sentences; I helped them with spellings and verb tenses. Some of the most common mistakes I have found with speakers of other languages (especially Asian languages) are their abilities to forget articles (a, the, an) because those do not exist in Japanese, and the omission of the infinitive (to ____) or present continuous. For example, they say, “I like swim” instead of saying, “I like to swim” or “I like swimming. Most of these kids are fantastic at letter recognition, and I think their English is better than they lead on.

Finally, Camp Skit. For this activity I was with group T. Together they have to come up with a plot, write out a skit, and perform in memorized in English. My group basically sat there for a while, and finally came up with a combo of the Japanese fairy tale of Momotaro (Peach Boy) and Little Red Riding Hood. For this activity I had the kids write out their story in Japanese, and then I helped them translate it into English. They gave me a rough translation and then I helped them form a sentence that makes sense in English. For the next two days, they memorized, practiced, and made simple props.

In order to keep hydrated, the school provided coolers of -not water- but TEA. Left is for boys, right is for girls.

After all of these activities, it was time for dinner, and then a dance party. We danced the night away outside to classics such as Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, YMCA, Cha-Cha Slide, Cupid Shuffle, Black Eyed-Peas, etc. Then, finally, bath and bed time. I have never been happier to go to bed at 9:30 pm.

Day 2:

We are up at 6:30 AM and by 7:00 AM all the students meet outside with us. In Japan, they do something called morning stretches; which is basically to the music of a commanding Samurai and consist of your basic arm, leg, head, neck, and back stretches; it’s about 10 minutes long and most Japanese people do this every day; with this particular school, one student led the stretches every day, so we all just follow him. After stretching, it’s time for breakfast, followed by the same activities: My story and  1 minute drill, followed by lunch. After lunch, the fun begins.  Because it’s time for American Carnival! (as I explained in American Fiesta. Here are some photos:

Annie (our A.D.) and Gao after she was written all over for the “Tattoo Lady” station- the kids got to write all over her and give her tattoos!

Anna (JC) and Jasmin (AC-clown) and Sara (AC)

Erin was the other tattoo Lady- with Casey

Julie and Danny making balloon animals

Emmy (also from Oshkosh) defeating Jasmin the clown in arm wrestling at the “Wrestling Station”

Finally, we work on Camp Skit and then it’s usually time for dinner. On the second day, we have a camp fire, so we led all of the kids to a camp fire next to the ocean; it was very beautiful but stressful with 150 people. We showed them how to make s’mores and led camp songs. Finally, it was time for bath and bed.

This is a Japanese Indoor Fire pit- there are candle wicks on the ends! This is what we would have used in the gym had the weather not cooperated.

Day 3

6:30 am wake-up call, followed by stretches and breakfast. Then, we start testing for 1-minute drill. Then we perform My Story and Camp Skit, and have lunch. After lunch, we meet as a big group and give awards for the best skit, story, and top three 1-minute drillers, along with the closing speeches, pictures, and autographs. There were a lot of tears at this camp L It was hard to say goodbye to some.
Now we are back at Global Arena, and most of our camps will be held here for a while.

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