On February 17, Keifer and I went to a weekend camp run by Josiah Venture. This was the first camp that we’ve attended since being back in CZ, and it showed me just how much I’ve grown over my time in the Czech Republic.
Friday night we packed our bags, and in the morning we headed to the train station, where we met up with the students and other helpers. Together we made our way to the campsite in Frydlant. I was a leader in the girl’s cabin, and Keifer was a leader in the guy’s dorm in the main building. The theme of the camp was “Upside Down.” Each of the evening discussions was about how the Christian life often seems “upside down” to others, and how Christ calls us to do a lot of crazy, upside down things. I thought this was humorous, since moving to the Czech Republic has been a crazy, upside down kind adventure for me, far removed from anything I ever thought I’d do on my own. It was fitting that my first camp of the year would celebrate this. God’s ways are amazing. 🙂
Each day at camp, Keifer and I taught an English class. The groups of kids were different each day, so we were able to use the same lesson plan and tailor it to the needs and skills of the students. Keifer’s favorite way of teaching English is through interactive gameplay that gets the students talking and builds their confidence while also allowing them to have fun. We played two different spy themed games, and also a game where the players created different inventions and had to “sell” them to another player. The inventions the students came up with were super creative, and I loved how they adopted the role of salesman. After each game we discussed the activity with the students, and any vocabulary that was new to them was written up on the board and defined. I think I had as much fun each day as the kids themselves.
One of my favorite parts of camp was the creative games that the entire group did every day. The first day was relay races, involving toilet paper snowmen, balloon antlers, and ping pong balls passed back and forth with spoons. The second day was full of outdoor adventures, like “swimming” through the snow, pulling people uphill on a sled, and breaking a secret code. The last day was a round of winter “olympics,” from building a cardboard bobsled to skiing on cardboard skis, as well as a very competitive “balloon stomping” tournament. Our team managed to win the winter olympics, and we were called forward in front of the other groups and honored with a candy prize. You can see by the looks on our faces that we were pretty excited.
Another of my favorite parts of camp was when the music started playing for the “camp dances.” Now, I am not a dancer myself. I don’t know the first thing about dancing. But the kids LOVED the camp dances. Whenever the music would play, the kids would rush to the group and start doing the moves along with the leaders. The freedom and camaraderie they had to just “be themselves” together made my heart glad. It was like a little taste of heaven.
I caught a cold on the last day of camp. It came on strong and lasted for several days after we were home. I was pretty miserable, but it gave me a chance to compare my experience at camp with a similar camp experience last spring. Looking back, I can see how much more confidence I have now than I had last year. I’m less afraid to meet new people, more comfortable in new situations, and able to actually do some teaching now instead of just helping. It’s encouraging to see growth, and even more encouraging that I’ll be able to learn and continue to grow here. By this time next year, who knows how far I’ll have come!
Until Next Time!