Every now and then it is a good thing to break free from the routine of our lives and do something different. This summer, I went to Keszthely, Hungary to help out with an English camp for high school and college students. Think “camp.” Not the kind in the woods, living in tents, but the kind with a week-long experience in a dorm with about 90 campers per week and almost as many staff. Think camp food, skits, music, games, and free time and you’ll have a glimpse into my life this past July.
What did I observe?
First, the campers had a wonderful time. Who wouldn’t? The beach on Lake Balaton was a 10 -minute walk from the dorm complete with at least 3 opportunities to buy a foggyi (ice cream) or a langos (a kind of pizza with a deep-fried dough and topped with sour cream and onions with bacon.) Or you could walk with your small group through the picturesque town that leads to a palace and garden, again laden with opportunities to treat oneself.
Secondly, the topics taught and discussed appealed to the campers. High schoolers learned about a hero journey and created and performed skits. College students studied Emotional Intelligence.
Thirdly, each afternoon, the campers and their tutors experienced intentional English conversation time that covered topics about spirituality, faith, and the Bible. Yes, this camp is operated by Christians and it is advertised that way.
Finally, each evening offered a variety of fun experiences. For example, there was a staff scavenger hunt when campers ran through the town in groups trying to locate all of the staff scattered about wearing costumes.
What will I take with me? I will remember to make learning fun. I will remember the value of conversations in small groups and with individuals. I will remember the courage of some campers coming to a camp not knowing anyone, to speak a language they may not be entirely comfortable with. I will remember the joy of seeing them form friendships and leave with a sense of accomplishment.
Thank You Speak Out Camp, Hungary, 2018