As in the opening lines of Dickens’ Christmas Carol one point should be made first before the rest of this post will make sense. That point is that I have never really enjoyed being a part of camps for youth or children. While there seemed to be benefits, they generally looked artificial and pointless to me as a child and as a young adult, due in part simply to the fact that our family was already close and strong as a family, a determination that I attribute gratefulness to God for.
One thing that made Winter English Camps here different was of course the English. Learning and conversing in English is a skill that many parents in Taiwan make a priority for their children even during vacation. The classrooms here provided the perfect backdrop for the camps and made English learning naturally more enjoyable and exciting. However there were still many details that our fearless leader Lucas Stewart ironed out for our first camps ever on site. Afterwards, we heard that the feedback to us from the parents was very positive and that there are not only students wanting to come in the future but ones who have already come through who would love to come a second time even if we teach the same exact things again.
We had ten teams that took the names of a country such as Australia for team A and Brazil for Team B. As it turned out I worked with Team Canada for one week and England the next. They were eager to learn anything we told them about those countries. Besides holding elections for a Camp President and cooking our own lunches, one highlight was being able to give a chalk-talk on attentiveness. Afterwards, I got a torrent of mail through our Camp Post Office! One student on team Germany wrote: “To Donald ~ Hey! You draw the picture well. And your stories were good. They were bringing me a lot of fun. I hope you will have a great Chinese New Year [a]nd have fun in Taiwan. . . .”
From 5:30am on the first morning of camps to our “finishing celebration” at Ponderosa on Friday night a week ago, the Lord supplied His guidance and strength. Besides His presence with us, I must say too that it was a good thing to see the TAs (Taiwanese Teacher Assistants/Translators) we had come to know over the summer! It was a team effort and an honor to play a part in.