About 3 years ago I accepted a wonderful position as the head English Teacher at a sleep-away summer camp for 8 weeks in the mountains outside of Burgos, Spain. It was a lot of hard work and long hours but the summer of fun, memories, adventures, and a solid tan more than made up for it! Since I was the only native teacher on-site, it was an amazing opportunity to not only share my culture but to get a more intimate glance into the vibrant culture of Spain as well.
Our days were filled with every type of camp activity imaginable including; face painting, fort building, swimming, hiking, Olympic games, scavenger hunts, spelunking, cliff jumping (for the monitors only!), obstacle courses, white water rafting, rock climbing, arts and crafts, cooking classes, music classes and of course…ENGLISH CLASS!
Although we had several different groups over the course of 8 weeks, the day-to-day structure for each camp was the same.
A typical day looked something like this…
8:00 Camp monitors must report to the cafeteria for morning meeting
8:15 Wake up campers
9:00 Morning stretches on the basketball court
9:45 Morning English class
11:00 Free Time
12:00 Arts & Crafts
14:00 Choose your activity: Games, Football, Frisbee, Arts & Crafts
15:30 Afternoon English class
17:00 Swimming/Free time
18:30 Environmental education-themed class
19:30 Free time
21:00 Evening activity (Ghost stories in the woods, scavenger hunts, haunted hikes, game night etc)
22:30 Getting ready for bed
23:00 Lights out
23:15 Evening monitors meeting
24:00 Bed (But we all usually stayed up and hung out until 2-3)
Here are some tips
- If you haven’t had much experience with children, phone some local academies and ask if you can observe some experienced TEFL teachers teaching some children’s classes.
- Do some research on the internet about techniques with children (reward charts, rules etc) search terms such as TEFL resources children work well.
- Take lots of games, activities, and songs with you. Don’t rely on what the summer camp organizer says they will provide.
- Buy cheap stickers and a set of color paper, pens, and stamps just in case there is not enough to go around.
- Make sure you know what age groups you will be teaching so you can plan accordingly.
- Learn some interactive songs before you go.
- Children have a lot of energy – get plenty of rest before you go.
- Find out the rules and regulations before you go – some are very strict so make sure you can stick to the rules.
- Find out the exact location. Some summer camps are very rural and it will be difficult to leave.
- Find out what other duties you will have to do such as lunch monitor, night monitor, and activity supervisor.
If you’re interested in a similar position start looking now! Often opportunities come through Tt job alerts, Lingobongo, Facebook, or Google. Apply to as many as you can and see what offers you get and then choose from that. Pay often varies based on the length of the camp and your responsibilities. As you can see I was basically on call 24/7 and my compensation was 2000€ + Room & Board. These jam-packed days were a blast but they definitely took their toll after 8 full weeks. While I would never trade in the friends or memories I made that summer, I think a 2-4 week camp is all I’ll ever do in the future!
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