English Camp & Pha Tup Caves

Saturday morning we woke up at 7 and prepared for English Camp. We had no idea what to expect other than the very limited agenda we’d been given and the lessons they told us we needed to teach. Ethan and I would be teaching about the nations of ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations)  as well as American holidays, while Kristin and Caitlin were to teach the “greeting” and “thanks” traditions of the ASEAN nations as well as American holidays.

Napping before camp 

Some of the staff came to get us around 7:45 and we got to the Nan Valley Resort around 8:30. They took us to our rooms and told us they’d be back at 9 to get us. We tried to take a nap, but it didn’t quite work. They came back and got us and led us to where all the kids were. There were about 100 kids of varying ages and about 15 staff workers. They were all assembled in the banquet room and the head of the camp was talking to them in Thai, while we received our camp shirts (none of which were in the sizes we asked for). Also, while they were talking the staff informed us that we wouldn’t have a projector for our presentation. This wouldn’t have been a problem, but our presentation was a powerpoint. They had a white board, but neither of us brought our computers so we couldn’t even see our information to write it on the board. Luckily Kristin brought hers and let us borrow it.

Teaching in the room with a/c

So the day was split up into 4 “rotations” or class periods with about 25 kids in each rotation. They tried to have both of our presentations in the banquet room, but then realized that we were yelling over each other so they moved Ethan and I outside. It was incredibly warm, but there was a breeze and I didn’t have to yell. The first rotation was not as smooth as we would have liked but the second was better. After a wonderful lunch, they moved us to an air conditioned room, which felt like heaven. The next two rotations went pretty well even though one of the students corrected our information (slightly embarrassing) and I had to take an emergency poop break.

ASEAN Show / Costume Contest

After our last rotation we got a very long break, while the other teachers helped the students with a show they were putting on later. We really didn’t know what the show was all about or what to expect. After a lengthy nap, we ate dinner then headed to the room for the show. It was awesome! They split the kids into 10 groups, each one representing a different ASEAN nation. Then two kids from each group dawned the traditional dress attire for each nation (made by the kids from paper). Ethan and I were asked to host the show, which turned out to be a fashion show of sorts. Each nation was judged based on their confidence, their costumes, their speech and their ability to say each nations greeting correctly. So the four of us and some other teachers were the judges and in the end Indonesia took home first prize. It was really fun watching the kids parade around in their costumes and cheer for each other.

Everyone wanted a pic with the tall goon

After the show we played some games and taught them the Macarena. It was pretty hilarious without the music. Then they showed a slideshow of pictures from earlier that day. The kids would randomly scream and cheer at different pictures. I think they were cheering for the cute boys, but who knows. After the slideshow it was time for bed, but some of the teachers were hanging out so Ethan and I decided to join. It ended up being really fun and they asked us a bunch of questions about English and the US, which is always entertaining. They had a seemingly endless amount of snacks too, which was awesome except they were all pretty salty so I felt like a blimp the next day. (Ethan- They also had a seemingly endless supply of adult beverages. Every Thai seems to know the trick on how to open a bottle with another unopened bottle. The vice director of the school tried teaching me. The first two bottles didn’t go well and he had to take over, but on my third attempt and the final bottle of the evening… SUCCESS!)

Christmas group with our snowflakes

Sunday morning came way too early because we’d stayed up pretty late. But it was a short day. We only had to be with one group to teach them about Christmas. So we showed them some pictures of Christmas trees, Santa and Jesus and then taught them to sing Jingle bells. We also taught them how to make huge snowflakes and made three or four to present to the whole group. When everyone was done the whole group got back together for presentations. We were supposed to make the kids present in English, but making the snowflakes was complicated enough so I did the talking while they demonstrated. Then we sang jingle bells for everyone. It was cute. We had lunch once everyone had presented and then headed out to the caves.

Going into a cave. It was a tight squeeze!

Ethan and I had been to the Pha Tup caves the weekend before, but didn’t have the proper attire for such a venture. So Kristin and Caitlin came this time and we wore proper clothes and shoes. It was really close to the resort that camp was at, so we had the teachers drop us their rather than go all the way back to Thawangpha. We explored as many of the caves we could find, as there was no accurate map of the park. We basically just hiked until we saw a sign or an arrow. Some of the caves were small, while others were huge. They were not at all what I was expecting and I actually really enjoyed it – even though there were bats and disturbingly large spider webs everywhere. One of the caves even had some Buddha statues in it. We hiked pretty far into the park when we came to a square lake with a tree on an island. It was very strange and not very pretty. We kept going past it to another cave and once we made it to a point where we really didn’t know where to go and didn’t want to get lost we turned around. On the way back we checked out a pretty large cave that we thought we could climb out of and get a good view from the top of the hill it was on, but Ethan climbed up to no view. We decided it wasn’t worth it so we headed out. The cave did have an interesting dragon “sculpture” in it though. The caves were pretty cool and as far as I know they’re the only real caves I’ve ever been in. I really disliked the bats, but they didn’t bother us so I think my chances of visiting caves again are pretty good. :]

Ethan climbed to the top! 

Stay tuned for an update from this week, Thanksgiving and MY BIRTHDAY!!


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