Wednesday, July 29, 2015

First Teaching Days at Language Camp 2015

I normally teach in multiple language camps during the summer, but this year "life" got in the way. I encountered a troublesome knee which made Zakopane a bad idea and then a troublesome tooth which prevented me in participating in the first language camp at Reymontowka.

My knee is gradually getting better and the tooth finally got fixed -- I learned what mistakes had been made in trying to fix it before I was referred to a specialist dentist. And now my dental insurance is refusing to pay any portion of this fix because I've had to have work on this tooth twice in less than two years! Probably not worth the fight to appeal this decision.

That all leads to being grateful I can participate in one language camp. My younger daughter kept insisting I was too ill to go back to Poland again, but all I could think about was how much fun I would be missing. I would have changed my plane tickets to stay for the third camp, but alas Reymontowka is already full with the next group of volunteers and the expected campers and there is no place for me to have a room.

A program always begins with an orientation day. We break about 11:00 so that interested volunteers may attend church in the nearby village of Żeliszew Duży. This wooden church has a cornerstone showing it was built in 1776.  But I surely was surprised when I got there. Since my last visit there has been renovation done on the outside of the church and now it is a different color. 

 Formerly is was a dark brown color. 

While others attended Mass, Dorota and I went into Kotun where I purchased a new hairbrush. Mine had disappeared somewhere along in the journey between Warsaw and Reymontowka. I also bought a bottle of wine at the request of 2 of my Global Volunteer teammates. 

In the afternoon we gathered in the tent with all the student campers. I had no need to introduce myself. Nearly half of the group knew me from previous camps. 

By the end of the afternoon I had met my class of students. I have three boys and four girls. Two of the girls are from Warsaw and the remainder live in Siedlce. This group is at the most beginning level in the camper group. Two of them are 8 years, 1 of them is 10 years old, and the rest are 9 years old. 

Monday we had the first classes and I found they are wonderful and serious students. It is always a guess as to what level of English the students really area. I found they went through my planned materials more quickly than I had anticipated so we went for walk. This group of students knows a great deal of vocabulary, but haven't had the chance to put it to good use. So during the walk I tried to get them to use a short, complete sentence such as "This is a flag" rather than just naming the object as a flag. 

Monday night was camp initiation. This is a feature of every camp but this one surprised me. Formerly each new camper had to do the same thing such as crawl under a set of chairs blindfolded and then put their hands into some kind of sticky goop. This year, instead, each had to do some sort of activity and each was different. Our 9 year old volunteer had to use a hoola hoop, another girl had to build a pyramid from paper cups, and another had to balance a tennis ball on top of the container normally holding tennis balls while running in a circle around the tent. 

By the second class on Tuesday I was becoming more familiar with my students. I copied an idea from a fellow volunteer. I asked each of them questions about things such as their favorite food, color, and sport. As they heard the answers each filled in the answer on a worksheet by that camper's name. 

In the afternoon we went into Siedlce to meet with the Deputy Governor of the County of Siedlce. We do this because our official host is the County of Siedlce. I had met the Deputy when I was here in May -- a group that also included 10 volunteers. I was most surprised to find that he remembered me. 

Home in the evening found us enjoyed a karaoke evening with the campers. Here are camp this is not usually an individual event but rather a group decide something they want to sing. I was happy -- a bad pun coming here actually -- when a group of campers came to me and asked if I would participate in the song Happy with them. This song was used for the dance performance last year. I did this routine at three camps and how to do actually returned to me. However, the gimpy leg this year will not let me "turn around" or rotate. But it was fun anyway. 

I am so very glad I made my way through three airports to get here! And any reader of this blog who speaks English could have such fun too. See for more information. 


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