SIOBHAN GREEN, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY, 2016
My Camp Thailand Experience- January 2016 Intake – Siobhan Green, Australia
Camp Thailand was probably the best way I could have started 2016. No doubt about it! Now, no program that is bringing in people from all over the world is going to be perfect, and we had our hiccups, but that only added to the experiences. Camp Thailand brought me some of the most amazing people, and we shared some of the best experiences, all of which I will never forget.
I don’t think I could tell you of something that I didn't enjoy doing while on the program, honestly I think I enjoyed every moment, even being sweaty and exhausted while teaching the children, it was amazing!
From signing up for the program I was thrilled, the support was outstanding and communication was great, despite time differences. I felt supported throughout the whole process leading up to my departure, throughout my TEFL/TESOL course and through the Camp Thailand team creating the groups for us to ‘meet’ everyone (via social media) before we arrived. I was well excited before I even begun packing my bags.
Bangkok was such a fantastic way to start everything, being greeted by the team and getting to know everyone on the intake through such a fun and exciting environment made everything that bit easier and more relaxed. The meals, activities and even the down time, was fantastic and so much fun, and the reps did an amazing job supporting and informing us throughout our couple of days of fun and adventure. It was a great way to get to know everyone in a natural and fun sort of way.
The accommodation in our lovely town was very homely, and the town itself was an experience that very few visiting Thailand would have gotten the chance to see, let alone live amongst for a few weeks, it was fantastic and such a unique experience.
One of the great benefits of the Camp Thailand programme is that it enabled me to study for and obtain my internationally accredited 120-hiur TEFL certification which now enables me to teach English all over the world. The support I received throughout the course and in the subsequent teaching practicums in Thailand was invaluable. The teaching in schools in Thailand was an experience I could not have prepared myself for, we were given preparation time and help in organising our lessons and lesson plans, but the energy and emotions the children bring is something you could not prepare for. The high energy of the kids, and their smiles, brought out the best in all of us, and I loved every single minute of teaching, despite the sweat and exhaustion, I had no choice but to keep up the high energy! I honestly miss it so much. I was eventually left alone to teach my groups of children, and although I was nervous at first, the children made all of that go away, the way they responded and fed off the energy and information made any worries I had about teaching go away. The end of our lessons always meant selfie time and, despite being exhausted and possibly slightly delusional, it was always such fun trying to see how many kids you could get in one selfie. The smiles and poses, the photobombs, the memories and laughs these amazing children provided despite the circumstances they may have been in, just made everything more amazing and unforgettable! My passion for teaching and working with children only increased with each lesson and I am forever thankful I got the chance to do what we did with these kids, even if it involved being attacked by small children and climbed all over!
On top of teaching, being able to experience the Elephant Conservation in Surin with our overnight stay by far one of the most eye opening things I’ve done. Elephants are one of my favourite animals and being able to work with them, walk with them, feed them, wash them and give them a sneaky pat or cuddle made such an impact on me and how I now view these beautiful creatures and the way they are treated. There is nothing quite like walking along side an elephant and then all of a sudden having their trunk resting on your arm as they casually introduce themselves and check you out, or being swiftly nudged and practically knocked over by a baby elephant as they try and steal your bag of cucumbers in the middle of a lake. There was so much more to the elephant program than meets the eye, and I am so glad I got to do it, even if it meant being woken up by screeching elephants throughout the park in the middle of the night, but nothing beats a cuddle from a friendly baby elephant (even if they try to eat your hand in the process)!
If you are given the opportunity to do Cambodia, do it!!! Cambodia was an interesting little additional adventure full of different experiences, from watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat, to visiting the floating village, and who could forget the legendary Pub Street! Cambodia was a couple of jam-packed days of fun and unforgettable memories, and the odd eye opening experience through the experience of the Killing Fields and Cambodian Dance Show and dinner.
Our one-day trip to the Silk Village was something else, being greeted with music and excitement from the locals, our attempt at ‘dancing’ with them, and the tour throughout the town and how the village lives and produces silk products such as the beautiful scarves we were gift with. Both and educational and enjoyable experience, the Silk Village was amazing, although I don't think I’ll be bringing my new found skills acquired within our time at the village back to Australia!
Camp Thailand was amazing, and I personally loved it beyond belief and would go back in a heartbeat. On top of all the amazing experiences listed above, there was so much more that we did that I would do over and over again. The day at the lake we spent swimming, being thrown off banana boats and indulging in the food and beverages the lake people had to offer. The day trips to local nearby towns via the trains, cooling off by the pool. Eating the wide variety of interesting, and often spicier than expected, foods that the Thai people had to offer. Muay Thai! Such an amazing and exhilarated experience, I felt so good for getting in that ring and kicking some butt! Transport, who could forget the interest methods of transport, from the Tuk Tuks to the back of the trucks (or utes as we call them in Australia). Thai lessons, quiz nights, chilled nights with music, moped rides, the ‘occasional’ drink! Exchanging cultural information from our parts of the world.
I loved the whole experience, despite any hiccups. I love the friends it brought me, and the memories we shared. I would go back without a question. Thank you to everyone who was a part of my Camp Thailand experience from January 7th to 28th. And shout out to Rebecca Ashfield and Michael Clarke for your hard work in keeping us up to date and under control, and for being such amazing and dedicated reps and friends.
When can I come back?!