In early March I had the opportunity to work at another English camp, this time in Garut.  It was organized by Vivi, a fellow ID10. In many respects it was similar to Lisa’s English camp, but there were also quite a number of differences.

Garut is apparently called “Swiss van Java,” or the Switzerland of Java, referencing its beautiful mountain ranges. Garut really is one of the most picturesque places on Java.
Vivi lives in Garut, almost directly south of me, but I had to go through Bandung, to the west, since there are no public transportation options I could find that connect our sites. She is at regular high school, whereas Lisa works at an Islamic high school. Lisa’s camp was assisted by a mix of ID9s and ID10s while Vivi’s camp exclusively used ID10s—many of whom had not previously been to an English camp.

In order to put the camp together Vivi had to do extensive planning. She wrote a proposal for her school in Indonesian, contacted interested schools, sent out permission letters to all campers’ parents, arranged meals for the campers, coordinated nine volunteers from around West Java, and many other tasks too numerous to mention. It was large undertaking, but hopefully next year Vivi’s school will be able to arrange more of the camp themselves and then, once Vivi’s service has ended, they’ll be able to put together a camp on their own.

The volunteers. Jake felt compelled to try and play the traditional instrument he’s holding in this picture for most of the weekend.

First day

The first day of the camp, Saturday, began after school ended around one o’clock—already a very different schedule from Lisa’s camp. We spent the morning going over lessons, responsibilities, finalizing plans, and creating materials for the campers. Vivi had done an excellent job putting things together and preparing so there wasn’t much left to be done besides conversing with the other volunteers. My favorite moments are during gatherings such as these when volunteers are working and chatting before the event, like the calm before the storm.

“The most pregnant Peace Corps cat” checking out what’s in the trash
One of the schools that had agreed to be in attendance at Vivi’s camp ended up backing out the morning before the camp began. There was some frustration and disappointment on the part of the camp organizers (really just Vivi), but after some adjustments and adaptations the camp got off to a strong start.

The first day of the camp was spent getting to know the campers. Like Lisa’s camp, all the kids were divided up into five groups. There were nine volunteers (originally ten) helping the camp so each group had two volunteers to act as group leaders except my group, which just had me because I’m ultra-cool and capable.

Me with my group of kids. They’re pretty cool.
We played some games to break the ice with everyone then broke up into our small groups and played some more games to get to know the kids in our respective groups. My group had eight kids and they were all pretty cool. They even taught me how to play a couple games I had never heard of.

Around five o’clock we broke for dinner and then the campers had a movie night. The first day was mostly spent trying to make the kids feel comfortable around foreigners and among each other. I didn’t spend much time with any particular group during Lisa’s English camp so it was nice getting to know some of the campers on a better level.

My good friend Sophia and I wearing our matching batik

Second day

The second day started with Sophia leading everyone through some morning stretches to make sure everyone was awake, energized, and ready for an exciting day of learning. After the stretches the campers had the option to partake in one of three activities led by volunteers; yoga, dance, or running. Taylor took a group of kids and practiced yoga in one of the classrooms. Richard took another group and went for a run around the desa. Sophia took her kids and taught them some basic dance moves.

It was a fun morning and a great way to start the day. Vivi and Jake slept (tried to, at least) at the school the night before to help keep an eye on the kids. While everyone else was doing their respective morning activities Jake and Vivi got cleaned up, drank a bunch of coffee, and tried to recover from their lack of sleep before heading back to the school.

Campers doing yoga being led by Taylor
Once the activities wrapped up the campers ate breakfast and mandied. Once everyone had showered and eaten we began our English sessions. The lesson themes were almost the same as the ones from Lisa’s camp: slang (the one I taught at both camps), world facts, how to sing a song, American games, and storytelling (instead of opinions and debate).

My classes went smoother this time around because I had some experience with my subject. I don’t often use slang myself, but having already taught this subject at Lisa’s camp I was able to work out the best methods to deliver the lesson material (mostly idioms) without too much trouble. Their favorite idiom here was the same as the kids’ from Lisa’s camp, “there are plenty of fish in the sea,” which I translated as “there are plenty of girlfriends/boyfriends in the sea,” to humorous effect.

Alyssa and Julie taught the session on wold geography and fun facts
Because of timing and budget issues we cut the sessions short a bit so the five groups only got to go through three sessions. It’s a bummer two groups of kids didn’t get to hear my funny translations of English idioms.

We ate lunch at noon and then the groups had the chance to perform as they did at the closing ceremony of Lisa’s camp. The campers could perform whatever they liked from skit, to dramatic dialogue, to song and dance so long as the performance was in English and everyone participated. The performances seemed a bit more freeform here, but still just as creative and impressive as Lisa’s camp.

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Julie and Taylor jumping for joy because they’re so excited to be at an English camp
After all the performances were finished the campers were presented with certificates of participation (which are a pretty big deal here in Indonesia) followed by a bunch of selfies and group photos. The camp finished around three o’clock Sunday afternoon. The other volunteers and I said our goodbyes, parted ways, and headed back to our sites.


And here’s a video I made with footage I recorded from the camp. At the time I was trying to record some clips for the new group’s welcome video so that’s why some of the volunteers are waving and stuff.

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