Friday, July 8, 2016

The Summer Camp Sessions

The summer camp I worked at for three weeks was a humanitarian camp put together with the US embassy in Moscow, American Bashkir Intercollege, and many other local groups. This camp was different from many others because all the children get to attend for free. They were chosen based on their parents' income and willingness to participate in the camp. I was blown away with how talented these students were. Not only was their English pretty decent, but many others were amazing artists, dancers, and singers. With the exception of a few they all worked so hard every day and brought so much excitement and energy to the camp. Sometimes when you bring a large group of middle school aged students together you can get a lot of drama, but, from what I saw, they all got along incredibly well. I was more sad after the three weeks ended at the camp than my entire year at ABIC. I wish all my students were like them.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I was told I was working at this camp. I met with the team a week or so before the camp started and I was able to chose which module I wanted to work in. I obviously chose arts and crafts, and my partner teacher was Alsu. Before the camp started we met up and made a list of what we would want to do during the three weeks. Unfortunately, we didn't get to all of it because many times our module was cut short or canceled for various reasons. There were three groups at the camp and every morning they would attend three different modules: Technology/Sports, Cinema Club, and Break Dancing. In the afternoon the would attend Arts & Crafts, Communicative Games, and Star Performer which was a singing and acting module. The camp started with a pow wow, there was a break in the afternoon for a leadership session, and also a break for breakfast and lunch. That's right, I got free food.

Alsu and I each took turns teaching the classes. I absolutely loved working with her. She was so talented and had so many great ideas. During the first week the students made name tags, self portrait/ internet profiles, dream catchers, and book pointers. I wish I had taken more close ups of the self portraits because some of the students were so talented!

During the second week the students made Zines which was basically a collage but we wanted them to look like a page out of a magazine. My favorite was the "FOOD" one. Unfortunately, we didn't meet with the students much this week, so I can't even remember what else we did with them. I think that was it, and the one other time we met them they just worked on projects they hadn't finished. 
During the last week we split up the groups on Monday and Tuesday. I taught half the class to make Ojo de Dios while the other half made magnets out of clay or super hero profiles. The Ojo de Dios project was a bit complicated, so I wanted to make it easier on myself and just work with small groups. I was really impressed with how they came out and some of the ideas the students came up with. They also made flip books, which I have a few examples of in the video below. Finally, on Friday, I taught the groups how to make paper cranes because the classes were shortened for the final ceremony.

During the first week I only worked the Arts & Crafts sessions in the afternoon because Irina and Katherine were working, and there were no open modules for a native speaker. When they left I asked my director if it would be okay to work in the mornings because I get bored if I don't work, and I feel less productive during the week. He said I could so I joined Vadim in the Break Dancing session. He didn't need much help so I just stood in the back and tried to dance. By the way, I am the world's worst dancer. The three groups performed on Friday during the final show, so I was able to take videos. Coming from experience break dancing is a lot harder than it looks!

Since I was just floating around for the morning sessions another teacher asked if I could take his classes for Monday, Tuesday, and Friday which then turned into the entire week. For the final week I held the cinema club sessions, as well as the morning movie sessions. The morning movie sessions are for students who arrive early. I showed The Sandlot, Good Burger, and, since the internet was out the last day from a storm the day before, I showed The Simpsons. On Monday I showed the students videos about sports. The first video was about the Ancient Origins of the Olympics and I quizzed them on their Olympic knowledge. I also showed A Beginners Guide to American Football and Sports Superstitions. It is extremely hard to find videos on Youtube with subtitles in English. Each day of camp there were different themes and if the students participated they would receive a star. Think Spirit Week in American schools. On Monday it was Halloween and one of the teachers said the students were asking were Halloween originated from. I was originally going to show videos on music, but I decided to do Holidays instead. I showed a video about Halloween and Dia de los Muertos. I had them compare the two holidays. I wanted to show another video about a day of the dead holiday in another culture but since I couldn't find a good video I just showed them a video on Thanksgiving. I had a little time left over so I showed them a video about Americans Watching Russian Cartoons for the first time. They loved it.

On Wednesday I only had two classes so I showed them part of an episode of Myth Busters. We talked about what is a myth and what is a buster, and then they had to tell me whether or not the Pop Rocks and Coke myth was busted. I stopped the video at times to check for understanding. Again, I had some time left over so I showed them the video of Americans Trying Bizarre Russian Foods that I talked about earlier. On Thursday, I wanted to mix up the class a little bit so instead of having them watch a video and talk about it I did another activity. I had the class split up into pairs. One partner faced the screen and the other had their back to it. I then showed a clip from Mrs. Doubtfire without sound and the student facing the video had to explain what was happening in English to their partner. Then they switched places and I showed them a different clip. I like showing Mrs. Doubtfire because the scenes are so bizarre and most of them have never seen the video before. Afterwards, they work together and write in order what happens. Then after a discussion I show the whole class both clips with sound. On Friday I wanted to do an interactive Zombie youtube video, but, unfortunately, the power had gone out so I just showed them an episode of The Simpsons and we played a game.

If you haven't seen yet on Monday of our final week a news station came to visit our camp. It's the second time I was on Russian news. I actually forgot they were coming, so I definitely didn't dress for tv. I also didn't think they were going to film me but they did. You can watch it below or see the entire news article here.

Have you ever been to or worked at a summer camp? What are some different ideas you have for them?


  1. I loved working at summer camps. Seems like you came up with some really really great ideas! I love that you managed to work in Mrs. Doubtfire!

    1. I always manage to work Mrs. Doubtfire into all aspects of my life. ;)


© Tiny Sputniks. Design by Fearne.