English Camp: A Reflection

As an EPIK teacher at a normal public school you will probably be expected to teach “English Camps”. I use quotation marks because the use of the word camp here is quite loosely interpreted.

It doesn’t exactly feel like what I think of camp. But yes, the environment is more relaxed, the students are only here for 4 hours, and it’s more fun than regular class. But other than that, the Korean public school camps seem to just be a two week extension of school. There are other camps that go on in the school besides English, such as science, or music. But as the Guest English Teacher, you only have to worry about English, of course.

We began talking about English camps during orientation. Yes, wayyy back in February. We had a course in the subject. Before orientation, I did not know about camps at all. But as we learned more about our duties for them I became pretty excited. The way it was put forth seemed pretty open-ended. We could choose pretty much any suitable theme we wanted for our summer and winter camps. You could make a music video, a movie trailer, have a Harry Potter or Twilight theme…whatever your nerdy heart so desires. I remember jotting down a few ideas related to film and journalism. However, after that course during orientation I rarely thought about camps again until around late May. I mean, I have written “think about camp ideas this weekend” throughout my planner–if that counts for anything.

Anyway, my co-teacher and I didn’t sit down to discuss any details until early-mid June. The normal semester ended at my elementary school on July 24th. Camp started the following Monday, July 27th. My camp logistics were pretty simple since I only work at one school. Week one of camp I would teach 3rd and 4th graders. And week two I was to teach 5th and 6th.

Third Graders are Awesome!
Third Graders are Awesome!

I wanted my camp to be pretty boss. So I began brainstorming ideas. I did tons of mind maps and everything. Then in late June I sat down with my co-teacher to discuss some ideas for our theme. Some ideas I had were “Drama (theater) Camp” “Fairy-Tale Camp” “Whodunnit Camp” “Art Camp” “Music Video” “News reporters camp” “Magic camp”…etc. I had some cool ideas for all of them that I also outlined.

Then I had a small list of more generic ideas. For example, nature camp. So guess which one my co-teacher chose? DING DING DING–nature camp. Of course, I was a bit deflated, but I did admit it would be a lot easier to accomplish. And I reasoned that perhaps for my first camp it would be best to try something simple.

Leaf Painting

Next came planning, materials, and budgeting. I made a basic outline of activities I wanted to do–with tons of help from Pinterest. But my co-teacher wanted a list of materials from me pretty quickly. She also let me know that we had a budget of 200,000 krw. Which is a lil bit less than $200 bucks. Also, we would need to use a portion of that money to buy snacks and juices for the students. So anyway, I made my list based on the ideas I had at the time and forwarded it to her. I even included images and links to each material, but I still ended up getting party napkins instead of tissue/gift paper. (That resulted in some horrifying looking tissue paper flowers.)

For the next month, I worked pretty hard on planning, Power Points, lesson plans, etc. My co-teacher was busy with volleyball during this month and kept putting off time for us to talk about our plans. So the week before camp started I printed off my plans for her and e-mailed her the PPTs. However, I was still absolutely in the dark about her sections. We decided to split the camp days in half. She would lead for 1 hour and 40 minutes, break-time, then I would lead for 1 hour and 40 minutes. I am very thankful for this, because it would have been terrible trying to fill all of that time on my own.

Day one arrived and I found myself slightly nervous, but I had every minute planned for and hoped that I could pull it off. We had 21 little sweethearts for week one. Which was a lot more than what I had expected back when we first heard about camps at orientation. But of course, she informed me of this number beforehand and I had prepared accordingly.

Worms in the Mud
Worms in the Mud

Things started off pretty well, but my co-teacher ended up going over her time on both Monday and Tuesday. So on Monday I was unable to do three activities. My co-teacher said we could move one of the bigger ones to Tuesday, so on Tuesday she again went over and I missed 2 activities. So it was then I started to realize I had put maybe too much time and effort into my plans for camp. Wednesday I scrapped some of the things I didn’t think were necessary and just tried to be more flexible and relaxed. Our camp was only Mon-Thu so on Thursday I just prepared a movie to watch, and my co prepared a review game. At the end we invited the principal to come give the students certificates of completion.

Certificates!
Sorry you can’t see how adorable my little babies are. 😦 But I feel weird uploading photos of people’s children without their permission. I know I’d be a bit weirded out if I came across some person’s blog with my kid on it!

Also note that as an EPIK teacher your and your Co’s performance will be evaluated by the students. On the last day of camp we gave students a survey to fill out asking what they enjoyed, how they would rate the activities, and what they learned. I’m happy to say that my little ones gave us shining reviews. They were all really satisfied. We will get the evaluations from the older students at the end of this week.

Also my vacation starts after this week of camp. I will be heading to Japan for two weeks. I’ll be sure to bring back some stories for the blog.

P.S. If you have any questions regarding English camps for the EPIK teacher then feel free to leave a comment. I can also provide you with my lesson plans and files if you’d like. 🙂

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2 thoughts on “English Camp: A Reflection

  1. I never post pictures of my students either. It just seems odd (and against the law in some way). I compromised with one “fame-seeking” student and took a picture of her from the back. hahaha.

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    • Yeah, I’m not 100% sure, but I do feel like it isn’t legal here in Korea. They seem pretty strict about blurring faces/names here. And they have strict defamation laws here. If someone doesn’t like what you say about them even like in online comment sections about celebrities you can get in trouble. Either way, I feel weird to just post their faces. XD lol

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