Day Camp: Week One!

Well, I’m home from Peru (finally, my flights were nothing short of a disaster), but I’ve grown to love blogging, and so I thought I would keep up with my blog this summer. Plus, my summer job gives me enough things to write for a year.

I work at the Moose Jaw Multicultural Council at the summer program coordinator. I’ve been there for five years, and to say I love my job is an understatement. The Multicultural Council provides services for immigrants and refugees from all over the world that find themselves in Moose Jaw. The building includes three levels of English classes for the adults, a daycare, and social workers that are matched with families as they arrive. During the school year, the kids attend an elementary school in the area that has an EAL program. And, in the summer, they are with me!

Having worked with the program for so long, I have built pretty strong relationships with the kids and their families. As in, they’re my best buddies. When it was my birthday in December, we rented a Jolly Jump at the YMCA, and they all came. These kids are also the funniest kids you will ever meet. They are also the loudest. I love them.

We started the program last week. I have a lot of students that are returning from previous years, but some new students as well. This year we have students from China, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, the Congo, and Iraq. They range from age 6 to about 13.

My babies!

We had a great first week. We learned about Canada as our theme for the week, and the students made maps, coloured Coat of Arms, and read a story about the Canadian flag. They also wrote about their experiences coming to Canada. It was so interesting to hear some of their responses. The kids were so mixed. Some said they love Canada, and others wrote about missing their country. Almost every single one of them wrote about feeling shy and embarrassed to speak English when they first came to Canada. If you met them now, you would never believe that! It is truly amazing how quickly these kids transition into English. Every year I have a few new students who don’t speak at all. And, when they return the following summer, I can’t get them to be quiet.

On the first day, we had students work on a page about themselves. Below is some of their work:

Very interesting self-perception…

This is Oswald fighting a fireball.

While we try to do a lot of different activities with the kids, they all really love free time too. Our room is an old gym, but it’s full to the brim with tables in one corner and couches in another. So, we can’t do a lot of physical activities in our room, but the kids have lots of things to entertain themselves.

We love tea parties.

And board games!

And dressing up!

We also love to go to the library, which is conveniently across the street! I can’t say how much the library loves US, but I swear I am not rich enough to bribe all my kids to be THAT quiet.

Library time.

We also have the opportunity this year to have a hearing impaired little girl with us, Zainb. I say opportunity, because we had this same student last year and it was a real challenge. She was brand new to Canada, and terrified, on top of not being able to hear. She would not stay in the room, and after a few weeks, she moved into daycare where they have a higher ratio of teachers-children. I had felt so helpless, and I wish I could have done something more. This year, Zainb is in day camp. I spent a lot of time with her family throughout the school year, working to build a relationship with her. I visited her classroom a few times at school, and was amazed to see how well she transitioned into school. A few weeks ago, before the program started, I went and spent some time learning sign language with Zainb and her classmates.

She LOVES to paint!

We have had the smoothest first week. There are still lots of signs that I don’t know, but we have a book that we use to find words we need. I feel so ¬†fortunate to have this opportunity to work with Zainb.

I am so excited to be doing my job again. I can’t think of anything I would rather do. These kids are full of joy and they bring me so much joy. It’s not an easy job though, and there’s more drama on a daily basis than you could imagine (I am now threatening to punish tattle-tailers), and we’ve had a kid go home without a shoe one day (because it got lost in a fight somehow), and another little girl tell a little boy that he was a “disgrace to his mother.” (to which I laughed my head off because 1. He probably was at that point 2. It was hilarious coming from a seven year old). But really, I am so lucky.

 

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