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English Camps

Steps on creating an English Camp as well as printable examples!

Last Second Lessons Topic Ideas

Oh, English Camps! As a native and/or fluent English speaker, you will be asked to help with an English Camp in some capacity. They make some happy, and they make some scared and frustrated. The latter typically happens to new volunteers due to unfamiliarity with the purpose or best practices of English camps. Let's try to make some sense of this strange Thai phenomenon of English Camps.

English Camp Big Group

Add your tried-and-true Big Group Activities for English Camps here.

Goals and Outcomes

As a PCV, you have two goals to chose from when hosting a sustainable and capacity-building English Camp.

  1. for teachers to learn participatory learning approaches to teaching while facilitating an English Camp
  2. for students to practice project planning by coordinating a youth-led English Camp while gaining important life skills

If you want to focus on helping teachers in the classroom, you would need to make sure teachers are at every rotation during the day and eventually take control of activities. One successful volunteer created a camp schedule and camp goals…that’s it. She asked her counterpart for other English Teachers to come and lead the rotational activities. The PCVs only lead the big group activities. She stressed delegating because it is easy for the American hero to come and take control and make everything perfect…but remember this does nothing to help anyone involved except having information for the PC quarterly report.

If you want to focus on youth development, you would need to have the students chosen to facilitate help plan the activities that will be available to help facilitate the next year’s camp. One volunteer decided to have youth lead the English Camp. The student facilitators and the PCV went over game ideas, activities, materials, supplies, scheduling, etc. You may even need to train/teach the student trainers. For example, have 12th graders facilitate rotational activities and MC duties while 11th graders serve as student leaders walking the groups from rotation to rotation. The next year, those 11th graders will lead the rotational activities and MC duties.

As an English Camp host, you have two outcomes for your participants.

  1. for the participants to learn more English and to practice it
  2. for the participants to get over their anxiety of speaking English and to gain a desire for learning English

While both of the outcomes are important in English education, the second outcome of inspiring desire is uniquely attainable in an English Camp setting. It is unique, because desire is a hard sell in the classroom. The attainability of outcome 2 is an important contrast from that of outcome 1, because Camps are usually only 2 days, which is hardly enough time to teach and practice new skills that will stick.

In conclusion, English Camps can and should be both educational and fun, but you should consider giving the fun a prominent focus, especially if the campers are average or below-average in their motivation for English.

Anatomy of an English Camp

Themes and duration of English camps can vary, but there is a fundamental structure to an English Camp that is essential for a successful English Camp.

Essential Components

These parts of an English camp may appear in different arrangements and lengths, but an omission of any of these parts could be as fatal as the stork forgetting to give the baby a heart. Big group activities -These activities serve to warm the campers up in the morning or after breaks, and they serve as a transition between small-group activities. They tend to be songs, dances, or games. The emphasis is strong on fun. Rotation activities -Rotations are small-group activities or mini-lessons. If there are five rotations, then there must be five trainers, and the students are broken into five groups. Each particular rotation stays the same for the five times, but the groups of students rotate through. The smaller group sizes allow for more educational-focused activities, although don't forget to still disguise it as fun! Snack/Meal Breaks -This one's a no-brainer. You gotta eat, and your staff has to regroup.

Schedule Basics

The basic pattern each day is a couple rotations in the morning and a couple in the afternoon, with big group activities and breaks sprinkled in. If your camp is an overnight one, then you have to add in a special evening activity. The easy way to do this is to assign a role play (or something that similarly fosters creativity). You assign it late afternoon, then give the students time to work on it before and after dinner. Then you get everyone together for a couple songs and games before the students present their role plays. See example schedule(s) below.

Standard One Day Schedule

8:00AM – 9:00AM Morning Registration

9:00 AM – 9:30 AM Opening Ceremony

9:30AM – 10:00AM Group Activity 1

10:00 AM – 10:30 AM Rotation 1

10:30 AM – 10:45 AM

Snack Break

10:45 AM – 11:15 AM Rotation 2

11:15 AM – 11:45 PM Rotation 3

11:45AM – 12:00PM Group Activity 2

12:00 PM – 1:00 PM Lunch

1:00 PM – 1:15 PM Group Activity 3

1:15 PM – 1:45 PM Rotation 4

1:45 PM – 2:00 PM Snack Break

2:00 PM – 2:30 PM Rotation 5

2:30PM – 2:45 PM Group Activity 4

2:45 PM – 3:30 PM Closing Ceremony and Pictures

Additional Overnight (remove closing ceremony from One-Day English Camp)

2:45 PM – 3:00 PM Explain Night Activity

3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Night Activity Preparations

5:00 PM – 7:00 PM Showers, Dinner, Free Time

7:00 PM – 7:30 PM Last minute Preparations

7:30 PM – 9:30 PM Night Activity

9:30 PM – 10:00 PM Snacks and Bedtime

Additional Second Day or Alternative First Day

6:00 AM – 8:00 AM Showers and Breakfast

8:00 AM – 9:00AM Group Activities1

9:00 AM – 9:30 AM Rotation1

9:30 AM –10:00 AM Rotation 2

10:00 AM – 10:15 AM Snack Break

10:15 AM – 10:45 AM Group Activities 2

10:45 AM – 11:15 AM Rotation 3

11:15 AM – 11:45 PM Rotation 4

11:45 AM –12:00 PM Group Activity 3

12:00 PM –1:00 PM Lunch

1:00 PM –1:30 PM Prepare for Large Group Activity

1:30 PM – 2:30 PM Large Group Activity

2:30 PM – 2:45 PM Snack Break

2:45 PM – 3:15 PM Group Activity, Evaluations, Awards

3:15 PM –3:30 PM Closing Ceremony and Pictures

Articles & Web Sites about English Camps

English camps are such a big phenomenon in Thailand, they make it into major Thai newspapers and onto the web:

  • English Crazy Club - a non-profit group of Thai university students and international volunteers do inspirational English camps in Isan. Learn more about them on the Great English Teachers page, search for other ways PCVs have interacted with them, or go to their camp blog or Yahoo group.
  • Dragonfly English Camps - camps have become a national business for Dragonfly
  • English Wow - another company that runs immersion English camps
  • Bangkok Post article (21 July '09): "English Camp as testing ground for teachers"