After a bit of a hiatus, it’s good to be blogging again! We’ve been so crazy busy with summer events that it seems like time has just flown by. Now, with the start of another school season at hand, it’s nice to look back over the summer and see how much we’ve accomplished. For those of you who’ve been following our work, thank you for your prayers and support! Here is a look at the camps we’ve led over the past few months.
Business English Camp
Towards the middle of May, this good looking team converged upon ValMez to help us run our first camp of the season, Business English camp. Coming from different parts of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and America, this group of dedicated leaders, interns, and translators came prepared to teach, play sports, lead activities, and connect with the students in whatever way possible. This was Keifer’s first time as the camp director for Business English camp, and my first time being his assistant leader and creative director. With Max’s help, we’d been preparing for weeks before the camp started, and we were understandably nervous about how the week would go. But as soon as the team arrived, they came together behind us like one big family, and with their help we knew we were ready to go.
Camp ran for six days, from May 20 – 25. The first day was mostly focused on setting up the camp at the campsite, the arrival of the students, and then our opening session and some “get to know you” time. The rest of the days fell into a natural rhythm. The students had business sessions for the first part of the morning, where they learned important business principles in English through interactive learning. The rest of the morning was spent practicing Business English through interactive games and team challenges. Lunch was followed by special forty-five minute workshops that changed each day and which ranged from beginner’s piano to poetry, from barn dancing to coffee making, and from beading to photography. Afterwards, the students trooped down to the sports field to engage in American sports taught in English, such as flag football one day and baseball another. After break and dinner we had an evening talk and discussion time, followed by fun activities until lights out.
I learned a lot about leadership while I was at camp. I learned that it’s easy to let all the things you have to do and all the little details you need to sort out distract you from really connecting with students. And it’s easy to try to put the focus on yourself, instead of building up your team and helping them to lead the best way that they can. Leaders, in the business world or otherwise, do well when they remember the servant-leadership model of coming under your team to help lift them to new levels and greater heights. We watched our team, and many of the students, lift each other up and model good leadership throughout the week. I couldn’t be prouder of our Business English crew.
Fusion Arts Camp – Theater Track
After a bit of a break in June, we started preparing for our next big project — leading the theater track at a Fusion Arts Camp. A team of three girls flew from America more than a week before the camp to assist Keifer, Max and I with the preparations. We talked through plans, gathered props, learned dances, and grew together as a team. After the week of prep, we launched into camp up at an old hotel in the mountains. As well as leading in the theater track, my sister-in-law, Cati, taught the contemporary dance workshop, my OYAN friend, Laura, taught the musical theater group the song and dance for “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and my adopted sister, Maggie, went from group to group, leading and assisting every way that was needed.
Our script for the theater track was a shortened version of The Princess Bride, which the students learned and performed in English, adding their own twist to it by providing humorous translation for their audience of parents and family. During the week we held auditions, students practiced their lines, and learned key theater skills through a variety of games and exercises. The boys especially loved learning stage sword fighting under Keifer, often practicing in their spare time. I spent the week creating props for the play (like stick horses, and a rather large tree), helping where I could during class, and fighting off bouts of first-trimester nausea. I’ve always been a good eater, and it was a struggle for me some days to keep going with a positive attitude while being too sick to eat. But the team stood behind me, making sure I got rest when I needed it and food when I could. I couldn’t have done it without them.
Two days before the end of camp and the big end-of-camp show, two of our students got sick, and one hurt her knee so that she couldn’t dance. In order for the show and musical theater performance to go on, we leaders stepped in to fill the roles. Laura, Maggie, and Max all stepped in as dancers, and I stepped in to quickly memorize and perform the part of Vizzini. Now, while I like memorizing, I am no actor. If I thought I was nauseous before, nerves made me even more so. I remember botching all of my lines in the rehearsal and wondering how I would ever get through. But the show was amazing. All of us actors were on fire, giving our best performance ever, and the musical theater group and the contemporary dance group drew great applause and praise for their performances as well. The camp ended right after the show, and there were many heartfelt goodbyes. The bravery and talent I witnessed among our students and leaders was a true inspiration to me. I came away wanting to be more brave and loving myself.
After a wonderful summer with a lot of important lessons learned, I can’t wait to see what happens next!
Until Next Time!