Every year, the school hosts multiple-day camp for the younger students called Smile Camp. I’m not exactly sure why it’s called Smile Camp, but I figure that reflects poor and awkward English translation/word selection more than anything else. Anyway, I volunteered to go and be a “babysister” for Smile Camp from the 19-22. (I tried patiently to explain that the word they meant was “babysitter,” but I don’t think it ever sank in.)
I wanted to go because this would be the last time that I would see many of my students. The camp was also held near Khao Yai, which is a beautiful national park in Thailand and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of our activities during camp would be hiking in Khao Yai (“Khao Yai” translates to “big mountain”). Plus, I had spent all of December in Bangkok so I thought it would be a good (& free, & paid) chance to see more of Thailand.
The activities of the camp were varied. There was a walk rally (I wasn’t so sure what this meant, but it was basically six stations with different fun activities to participate in and teams went around to each one and competed against each other – I was an official part of the green team). There was meditation and praying. There was art therapy. There was singing. There were skits. There were copious snacks and delicious vegetarian food (since the retreat space we used was mostly used for Buddhist meditation retreats, the food was vegetarian). There was even a wonderful puppy named Bomb who the kids took great delight in teasing and feeding. I forgot to take a picture of him! I surprised the kids on the first day when they were all standing around looking at him but not touching him. I scooped Bomb up into my arms and began rubbing him. Ohh, puppies.
Onto pictures! I only brought my Canon S95, but a fair amount of the teachers at the school are really into photography. At least 5 brought DSLRs and snapped pictures the whole time. Usually, 3 or so teachers would be looking over the kids and the rest of the teachers waited around and took glamour shots of each other. It’s funny to witness.
Student-teacher relationships in Thailand are totally different than they are in the US. We all stayed in rooms with our students and everyone hung out in their pajamas together. Strange stuff.