Two 3-day camps- ESL style

Right now I am on day 10/13…. four camps in a row with only one full day of rest (today). Today marks one month since my arrival in Japan. I already come back in 27 days!

The first two camps were my favorite camps thus far because they were neither American Village Style nor Traditional Style, but more of my taste- ESL Style!! These camps have been really interesting because they are very different from our typical camps. Basically it was the same school but just split into two different sessions (80 girls each) instead of one huge session of 160 girls. This camp made us especially nervous because there were so many rules! For example, they weren’t allowed to have dance party (because there are boy AC’s and so they don’t want the girls and boys dancing together in the same room). Additionally, for American Carnival, although the girls were allowed to get tattoos (shockingly), they had to wash them off immediately after the carnival was over. The beauty parlor only consisted of French braids; they were not allowed to have nail polish or make-up as we usually do. Luckily, the girls were overjoyed at the fact that they were allowed to have French braids, because their school’s uniform policy also applies to hair: if the girls have medium hair they must be in pigtails; if their hair is long they must be BRAIDED pigtails. So, when us girl AC’s found out about this rule, we decided to support the campers and braid our hair as well. 🙂

Other rules for these two particular camps: AC’s have to cover up all tattoos (but that’s always the case for other camps), AC’s can only have 1 earring in their ears (all other ear/facial/nose piercing must be removed/concealed), no gum, we can’t eat/drink anything in front of the campers, if they want anything from the vending machines they have to eat/drink anything in front of the machines because the cannot bring anything back to their rooms, AC’s are not even allowed in the dorm halls, and cameras could only be out for recreation time. It was just exhausting listening to the rules. Additionally, cleaning was extremely important. So important that the principal of the school felt it was necessary for the students to be late to one of the educational activities just so that they could stay at the BBQ pit and continue to clean because according to the school, “Cleaning is the Most Important Thing in the World” – exact translation from the JC’s.

During this camp we also got to experience a Japanese barbecue. It was really interesting because basically each of us got our own BBQ pit and our group of girls, along with a tray of raw meat and a tray of raw vegetables, and then we could cook them as we liked. My girls pretty much took over the pit, which was fine, because I had more fun watching and having other people cook for me. I thought that was a major cultural difference because I could never see our teachers allowing us to take over and barbecue at the age of 13 or 14 (even in cooking/FACE classes). It was cool though. Additionally we didn’t have our normal activities, with the exception of camp skit (in which the group must create and perform a skit in English), but instead we worked on phonics sounds, phonetics, sentence building, and open group discussion. I really enjoyed these activities immensely; for me they were a lot more fun and rewarding to teach. (Our usual activities include One Minute Drill, in which students have one minute to say as many English phrases as possible from memory, and My Story, in which students write a fact or fiction story about themselves or another character using 10-15 English sentences, memorizing, and presenting to the group).

All of us had a great time.  The day after our first camp was over we heard the girls sang the camps songs the entire ride home (1-2 hour bus ride) and some of them were still crying when they arrived back to their school because they had so much fun. The 2nd half of the school was even more energetic when they arrived to our camp and there were just as many, if not more, criers at the end 2nd camp. It was really fun to see the girls have fun, see the teachers being able to loosen up, allowing pictures and participating in games, songs and campfire. Apparently last summer this school had a really bad experience at the camp but they had already signed up for this summer so it was too late to cancel. Before arriving they were not planning on ever participating in camp again, but after the 1st half of the school finished the camp, the school was so pleased and impressed with our work and their students’ interest and progress that they immediately signed up for next year again, with no hesitation. It was a really good feeling to know that we pretty much saved this contract with the school. In fact Guy Healy (the creator of this program- an American from Washington now living in Nagasaki) was so amazed that he immediately called McKenzie (our AD) to ask what it was that we did to impress the school so much! Happy teachers and crying campers  = SUCCESS!

After the second camp some of us went to an all-you-can-eat fruit and dessert buffet at Global Arena! Amazing! YUM! I miss fruit so much!

Sayonara,

Dana

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