What exactly is an English Camp? And why does it divide opinion of English Teachers in Korea like few other subjects? Read on to find out.
Not your traditional camp
Students are usually from the same grade (though a mixture is not uncommon, especially at smaller schools. I've had a camp with students from age 9-12 before) but are usually of varying levels.
Often camps are extremely competitive to enter, which 40+ students vying for a place in the final 15. Other times teachers have to force or bribe students to join. It all depends on your school, area and students.
Some teachers plan a camp theme, such as Harry Potter, Spy Camp, Sport Camp, Around the World etc, while others do different themed days, or no theme at all. Personally, after teaching 10 English Camps over three years, my advice would be to go with no theme. I had a Spy theme in a Middle School camp and by the end of the first day some students were already tiring of the theme. It was next-to-impossible to change the theme with such short notice, so some students loved the camp, while others did not. A theme each day, or no theme at all is the way to go.
The time of year also dictates what kind of activities you can do. During Summer Camp, outside sports, scavenger hunts and other activities are very possible. In winter...not so much. Winter does have its advantages though. Students love cooking classes, making hot chocolates or other winter treats is a great lesson.
What activities you can and can't do pretty much comes down to 2 decisive factors that I will expand on below. Budget and Support.
- Write a list for your co-teacher (and hope their English is good).
- Go shopping with your co-teacher.
- (The best option) Schedule some time with you co-teacher to buy it all on-line from the comfort of your office.
Finally, you will also be able to buy items with the left over money to use in your camp. For example you can buy food for a cooking lesson, glue and cardboard for a craft lesson, books for a phonics lesson or even rice and balloons to make juggling balls for a lesson on counting. The possibilities are endless. If you're unsure, cooking lessons. are always a guaranteed hit!
However, without money, the possibilities are a lot more finite. You can still have a fun camp without a budget, but it does take more work and planning. Check out more information in the resources section at the bottom of the post.
Theoretically you should be doing 50% of the world for the camp. That's 50% of everything. However if you are like many who has to teach the camp solo (with you co-teacher disappearing to do 'paperwork') it might limit your options. You won't be able to do fun but challenging activities with low level students without your co teachers help.
The other bad scenario is having a co teacher who thinks they control the classroom. One who shoots down your ideas and wants the students to work from a textbook four hours a day, five days a week.
Students' Point of View
Try to cut the students some slack. Realise that usually they didn't choose to join the camp. Either the English teacher, home room teacher or their parents forced them too. While it is your job to teach them, you should try to do so in a more enjoyable and relaxed way than you normally would in a classroom during semester.
Make sure to do prep work before the camp date. Don't assume that you've downloaded a camp and are good to go. Look through each and every activity and see if you have the materials needed and that it is a good activity that suits your students age range and English level. Feel free to mix and match ideas and don't feel any pressure to stick to just one camp theme.
Once the camp is over, reflect on what worked and what didn't. Refine your material so that next time you'll be able to teach an English Camp with less work on your end. You very rarely teach the same student in multiple camps, so after a two or three camps, you'll have your routine down meaning that you will need next to no planning next camp.
What do you think? Did we miss anything important about English Camps?