SURVIVING CAMP

My toaster has been away twice. Denpoo – the brand name – has been to two camps. I hadn’t bought it yet during the first camp and I didn’t bring it with me that time we decided to hold the second International Program (IP) – English Camp in Bali. The first time my toaster participated in an English Camp was the one for the elementary unit of Global Prestasi School (GPS). I had gotten wind that breakfast wasn’t going to be a drink-and-toast affair, which was problematic for me because I like having toast with butter – or strawberry jam or Nutella – for breakfast. I decided then to bring a loaf of wheat bread and a bottle of Nutella. My toaster was a hit! The students lined up for their slices of toast slathered with Nutella. It was a success with the toast-loving students during the third IP English Camp.

Let's spell LOVE everyone!

Let’s spell LOVE everyone!

I’ve never been on a camp during my high school days. My parents were a bit strict and didn’t allow me to be out in the wilderness. The English Camp I attended was a trip back to high school although I was no longer a student yet I felt like a student learning how to live out of my comfort zone.

The overall best team of the camp - the Brown Eagles

The overall best team of the camp – the Brown Eagles

The Royal Blue Chimps bagged the "Best Cheer Award".

The Royal Blue Chimps bagged the “Best Cheer Award”.

It has been a tradition for students of IP to pack their suitcases and set off for a three-day English camp. Each year is always a different place since the launch of the camp three years ago. For this year, the camp was in Carita, which is a comfortable four-hour drive from GPS in Bekasi, barring traffic jams. Wira Carita Hotel had the facilities – conference room, sprawling grounds for outdoor activities and a swimming pool – to successfully hold the third English Camp dubbed English Survivor 2013.

One of the best theme song singers came from the White Komodo Dragons. Hint: he's holding the flag.

One of the best theme song singers came from the White Komodo Dragons. Hint: he’s holding the flag.

Brilliant Black Cheetahs were absolutely brilliant in the game Indonesian Genius.

Brilliant Black Cheetahs were absolutely brilliant in the game Indonesian Genius.

Meeting time was 5:30a.m., at the school’s main lobby, and without skipping a beat, they came in droves ready for fun and learning. Bidding farewell to their parents, the grades 7 and 8 International Program (IP) students, together with the facilitators headed this year by Rico Jay Falcunitin and Harriet Joy Hernandez, were all set to go. The bus trundled out of GPS exactly at 630a.m. for a quiet town in Banten in West Java.

English Camp is one of the activities under IP, a program that gives the students another educational pathway to higher education in and out of Indonesia. IP is implemented in all units of GPS, from grades four to 10, following a thorough selection process of candidates, and adheres to the syllabi set by Cambridge. English is the medium of instruction in all classes and lessons are geared to develop students to think critically and speak English fluently. Furthermore, students sit for the annual Cambridge exams based on their year level. Dovetailed with classroom training, English Camp is the platform that instils a sense of responsibility and independence in the students, and offers the opportunity to interact with people of diverse backgrounds.

Rico Jay Falcunitin and Harriet Joy Hernandez summed up succinctly the mission of English Survivor 2013 in the introduction of the camp booklet:

“English language has become one of the trademarks of survival in this dynamic world. The use of the English language remains constant and continues to propagate to more countries thus let it become your flint and steel to start a fire of learning. English Camp is a great opportunity to start your journey to a lifetime success in using your skills whenever and wherever you are. Let English Camp yield you the fun and challenges that determine competence to go the distance and survive the world.”

The Peach Wolves were unbeatable when it came to acting.

The Peach Wolves were unbeatable when it came to acting.

Traffic, unfortunately, was far from smooth but it hardly affected the morale of the campers. Jump starting the camp in the bus, the campers familiarized themselves with the theme song “Go the Distance” and it was very trying hitting the high notes of Michael Bolton. After a few rounds of theme-song sing, they got busy creating the cheer for their team up until arriving at Wira Carita Hotel. After checking in and a hearty lunch, English Survivor 2013 blasted into full gear.

The other best theme song singer came from the Red Evil Dragons.  Hint: he's next tot the guy in red.

The other best theme song singer came from the Red Evil Dragons. Hint: he’s next tot the guy in red.

The key activities for day one were banner production – each team had to create their own flag highlighting their animal mascot, colour and motto; cheer presentation – each team had to come up with a rap or song; and Johari’s WindowJohari’s Window, done shortly before slumber time and during the camp fire where campers enjoyed roasted marshmallows and corn, is an introspective activity that had students learning about themselves: who they are, what they didn’t know about themselves and what others thought about them. Names were withheld unless the students owned up to what the moderator read out loud to the assembly. Some were courageous and gamely raised their hands to accept the comments of their peers while others were reticent. Nonetheless, it was heart-warming to see the students – including the recluse and the shy ones – get into the groove of things and give their best.

The Red Evil Dolphins let their creative juices flow in designing their banner.

The Red Evil Dolphins let their creative juices flow in designing their banner.

One of my favourite activities in day one – banner production is the other one – was Paint me a Picture, which is a version of an artist’s performance art (think of Tilda Swinton sleeping in a glass box at MoMA). One of the facilitators would read out a situation-subject and the campers, with their team mates, would act out. They would have to freeze after the time’s up and wait until the judges come to them to gauge their “painting”. Some of the “subjects” to be painted were the floods in Jakarta, a woman giving birth, Winter Olympics, world war, and The Hobbit movie.

Time for Group Spell - ready, set, spell the word that means "the one who is married to your mother".

Time for Group Spell – ready, set, spell the word that means “the one who is married to your mother”.

Day two was packed with activities that began with hatha yoga at the beach across the hotel, which I conducted. It was truly invigorating doing some basic asanas (tree and warrior stances) on the beach as the waves rolled and ran to the seashore. After yoga, were two games, Footwear mix & match and Sand Kingdom (with coat of arms) by the seashore. More outdoor activities were in store for the campers that had them breaking into buckets of sweat – Sack Race, Water balloon-catching and Bandanna race. The hard work was nicely rewarded with an appetising lunch of seafood – shrimp, squid and grilled fish – courtesy of the facilitators. It was back in the conference room in the early afternoon for more games that saw the six teams vying for top honours: Sylla Sync, Group Spell, Signature hunt and Rainbow Game.

Night time activities for day two kicked off with a formal dinner where campers had to dress up to the nines, which was followed by another round of activities at the conference room. It was highlighted by You’ve Got Talent!, which showcased the unknown talents of the campers in singing, dancing, and acting.

Who's the fastest hopper of them all?

Who’s the fastest hopper of them all?

Day three was more laidback. The campers were given free time to do whatever they wanted – swim, pack their suitcases or simply relax before the final activities of the day, which were Awarding Ceremony and Talent Market. Awards were given to the best team, best camper, Mr. and Ms English Camp, and best English-only-Policy follower. Talent Market provided the chance for campers to “shop”. The teams – headed by the winning team – shopped for goodies for their teammates based on the points they earned throughout the whole three-day camp.

Like clockwork, everyone was ready to head on back to GPS at 2:30p.m. The camp was over. They survived the English-only policy, numerous activities, early wake-up calls, and no texting or tweeting for days. I survived English Camp!

We survived English Camp 2013!

We survived English Camp 2013!

Photography by Rico Jay Falcunitin

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: