Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Silence Has Been Broken

I know that Living the Good Life has been silent for the last couple of weeks but there is good cause for that.  Somehow, and I'm not really sure how it happened but I suspect I was hit over the head with some large object, I agreed to run an English Camp at InterAmerican the last two weeks.

Oh. My. Goodness.

To say the enterprise was monumentally stressful, would be to put it lightly.   Try to imagine 15 continually rotating volunteers from InterAmerican Academy plus 70 children from a nearby community between the ages of five and fifteen, add to that the fact that the participants only speak Spanish and the leader (that would be me) only speaks English.  What does this equal?  Complete and utter chaos.

The original plan was for the Junior Honor Society to plan and organize the entire two week, yes I said two weeks, event.  Living in a land of hopes and dreams, I believed that this would happen rather smoothly.  I made sure the kids had resources to plan the ten day lessons, I held countless meetings to go over details of the camp, and I made sure we had a enough volunteers to help out with the classroom and outdoor activities.  I even color-coded the volunteers and students!  The kids seemed to be under no stress what-so-ever.  Every time I had a prep meeting, they told me not to worry about a thing--they had it all under control.  Uh huh.

The first day, at about 2:15, with parents and children streaming through the front gates, reality hit us all with its big ol' hammer.  As more and more kids kept coming into the grounds, my JHS volunteers seemed to lose some of their assurance and just began shouting questions with voices of panic over and over.  As I was trying to reassure volunteers, organize incoming camp participants, and as the sun kept beating down on the whole mess, I realized that things might have gone a bit over our heads.  

The camp lasted two hours a day, with one hour in the classroom and one hour outside playing games.  My friend Sarah, noting that English Camp was a monster that could not be felled by only one person, soon stepped in to help.  The first three days were exhausting and emotionally draining.  Each day, more and more kids would show up for the camp and we finally had to cap the numbers at 60.  Once the numbers were at a managable level, the kids became more comfortable teaching the classes, and Sarah and I could stop running around like two chickens with their heads cut off.  The event turned out to be a success with the kids from InterAmerican and the neighboring community really enjoying themselves.  I can't say much English was taught, but much fun was had.