We come to you from the other side of an exhausting week at camp, and from this side it was great! The format of the camp was 55 campers studying for 5 days of camp, each day being a different country. We studied China, Mexico, New Zealand, Ireland, and Greece. We had two additional days for start up and end activities, so it was 7 action packed days and we were exhausted! Here is how a typical day went:
7:15 am: we wake up
7:30 am: we hear the local teachers trying to wake up the kids with much moaning.
7:50 am: Amy leads morning exercises to very hostile and tired campers. We did kick boxing, aerobics, and even yoga, and then sang a morning song.
8:15 am: breakfast of some sort of hot cereal. Mmmm, burnt oatmeal! Also, it took me until the third day to realize they weren't serving us hot juice, but it was actually tea with about a pound of sugar in it.
9:00 am: Morning skit. Each student was on a team and when it was their team's day they had to do a skit. For New Zealand day Jack taught his students the Haka--the traditional Maori war dance. It was awesome (I have video I'm working on downloading). And for Greece day they sang "Summer Lovin'" no kidding!
9:15-11:40: Lessons. The kids would go to different stations where they would learn about culture, history, biography, geography, and language of the country we were studying that day. Jack's culture lessons were the favorite. For China day he took them on a Buddhist Walk of Enlightenment, for Mexico he taught them about bull-fighting and siestas and for Greece he took them to the Oracle of Delphi to have their fortune told (played by Amy of course). Amanda, one of the other volunteers took her students to kiss the Blarney stone on Ireland day. Language was also really popular and all the students now know La Bamba!
11:40-1: beach time! The camp was help on a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. Yes, even in Kazakhstan!
1:00 Lunch Borsch and Meatball. Good enough to keep a rock in your belly all day!
1:30 Activity: We tried to incorporate the countries into the activities, but we also just did some good ol' American fun activities. Some favorites: Chinese tattoos and calligraphy, piņatas, friendship bracelets, boondoggle key chains, tie-die t-shirts, salsa dancing, etc. We were interrupted on two different days during this time by TV crews. Jack and I both gave interviews in Russian and we saw ourselves on national TV!
4:30 Activity 2: We taught Baseball and Rugby and had plans to teach other games, but baseball was a huge hit. You should see some of these girls throw! We also went for a grueling hike one day that was beautiful, but exhausting. Later the local teacher who led the hike told us the first time she hiked that way she cried the whole time. Great! For Greece day we also had Olympics, which was a huge hit.
7:00 Dinner: another meatball and buckwheat? You must be kidding!
8:00 Review game. The kids competed against other teams about the knowledge they gained that day. We played Jeopardy and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire among others. They knew WWTBAM because they have it on here in both Russian and Kazakh. (Jack and I actually tried watching it in Kazakh one night out of boredom until we realized we couldn't even pick out what the questions were asking).
9:00 Evening activity: Sometimes we had disco for the kids, other nights we had a campfire complete with smores and sing along. The best night activity was "The Big Game" on the first night. In the game each time had to find clues and answer questions while being chased by "monsters" with socks filled with flour. If you got hit your whole team had to do something like sing the hokey-pokey. It was great!
10:30 pm: Showers! The best part of the day. They actually had hot water.
11:00 pm: Snack. Mmmm Kefir right before bed. By the way, kefir in English translates as "spoiled milk."
11:30 pm: lights out. The next few hours the local teachers tried their best to keep the students in bed while the Peace Corps Volunteers scrambled to plan the next day's lessons. We had compiled plenty of notes, but of course being how things go we were unable to find a working printer in time for camp. All the teachers did an amazing job with such little information. Many students said lessons were their favorite part of the day.
It was a really great time, but I about broke down when our bus was 3 hours late to take us home on the last day. We were so tired that it has taken a week to recover.
During camp we had our one-year Kazakhstan anniversary so it is all downhill from here! Hope this message finds you all well!
Quick notes from Jack:
Amy didn't forget too much but as usual I have my own additions. First, we made national television here with our camp. Amy didn't actually forget that but I thought id mention it again.
Amy got hit in the face with a baseball at camp. While the imprint of the stitching is no longer visible on her upper forehead she does still occasionally refer to "Ralph, our blue cat." he lives in the pumpkin patch apparently. Which leads me to the fact that we have successfully planted corn and pumpkins but not cucumbers or beans. Go figure.
Also Amy forgot to mention that I occasionally get questions right on Kazakh who wants to be a millionaire. At least I think that's pretty impressive. No matter that the question was "what does you get when you mix red and blue". (Purple) that was the 100 ($.70) tenge questions. The dollar amounts are somewhat lower on the show here...
All the best,
J and A
PS: We are out of horse meat season and back into sheep season so you can look forward to more shots of sheep heads soon. Yipee Hooray!