Korean Middle School Summer English Camp 

I’m writing this from my desk on the LAST OFFICIAL DAY OF THE SEMESTER! Well the last day has been long gone for the kids, but for my co-teacher and I today marks the end of our two weeks of English Camp.

English Camp is something that get’s a lot of attention at EPIK orientation considering it only takes up a total of four weeks out of the entire year. And going into it I feel like all of us, guest English teachers, were pretty nervous. It’s built up to be this huge thing, whether fun or terrible, and there is a lot of pressure to come up with something cool and creative.

Some schools push certain things like having some kind of overarching theme (ex. Harry Potter Camp, or Zombie Camp, or Olympics Camp) some want you to feed the kids as often as possible and a weirdly large number of schools seems to want to include a “flea market” or “store” type activity on the last day.

Most of us were asked about 2 months ago to give some kind of rough outline for the camp, but after that it depended on the schools as to how much detail and planning they required. Some of my friends were asked to submit up to five possible camp outlines and the schools choose the best from their. Others, like myself, were just asked to give a general idea for approval.

I’m lucky enough that my school and my co-teacher are both incredibly relaxed when it comes to camp. I didn’t have a theme, just a different topic for each day.

Day 1 = Travel, Day 2 = Movies, Day 3 = Youtube/Filming, Day 4 = Cooking/Food, and Day 5 = Art.

It also depends on the school as to whether you have two weeks straight with the same students, or two weeks split between different groups of kids. Mine was the latter. Week one was grade one students and week two was grade two and three.

Week one went really well because we had a ton of really sweet motivated students, including two of my favorite kiddos in the whole school.

They did all the activities well, and one group in particular did an amazing job with the make a YouTube video project. They included me in the video at the last second and I’m going to treasure those 6 minutes of silliness on camera for the rest of my life.

This week is the older kids. I was pretty nervous about it beforehand but it’s gone pretty well. The students are all absolutely lovely and their English is quite high as well. The only thing that could have been better is if I personally had been a little more enthusiastic. I think that would have motivated them more. But all things considered it was a really chill week of fun and English and bonding with some students who often get lost in the craziness of my regular schedule.

Because many of these kids are the high level English speakers, I knew a lot of their names already. But now I’ve got another 25 names under my belt which always feels good.

Apart from the 4 hours of camp themselves, the rest of the work day has been really nice as well.

We arrive at 8:30 and usually mill around for a little while chatting and making coffee. Then we work for a few hours (for me that’s been prepping camp stuff for the day, studying Korean, and writing for this blog) until the head teacher decides it’s time for a snack break and forces us all to come sit down with her for some snacks.

Then we work a bit more until the whispers of what to do for lunch start. We’ve gone out once or twice, but mostly we’ve ordered Chinese food delivery. Then at 1:00 my co-teacher and I head to the English room to start camp which runs until 4:30 and then we’re out the door heading home.

A few days ago I was told that someone from my office of education was coming to evaluate our camp lesson plans and might stop in to watch a bit of the lesson. But this morning I found out that they’re not going to see any of the class, just go over stuff with the head teacher.

Basically, all of this to say Camp has been significantly easier than I expected it to be. As with everything in EPIK this is almost completely contingent on your school/co-teacher/expectations left by the previous teacher. But I will say don’t stress about it too much. Do the work of preparing but just try to make sure the kids are having fun, then pretty much everyone will be happy.

Thanks for reading!


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