Our experience. How to enjoy your first camp with kids

Our experience. How to enjoy your first camp with kids

There comes a time when a volunteer faces challenges. It can be preparing their first event, adapting to life in a new country… or it can be simply playing with kids. Recently IntegrART volunteers had an opportunity to experience winter camp, and we would like to share what was happening during that time and how a volunteer can prepare themselves for it!

In winter, camp typically lasts for two weeks since it’s the time when kids have holidays at school. During that, they can join activities that are prepared for them in culture clubs. Organizations form groups of around 10 and more kids. Usually those 2 weeks have a theme, to which activities are connected. And since IntegrART volunteers are working in culture organizations, we joined preparations and all things that were happening during the winter camp. 

Our workdays were very different during time of the camp. Each of us had our timeslots with kids, for which he had to prepare our own program. In the meantime, we also helped other worker, for example, we joined them for art classes, quizzes, preparations for exhibitions etc. Doesn’t sound too hard, does it? And most of the time it isn’t, because you always get a support from your coordinators. In addition, kids can energize you with their funny mood and unusual ideas. With all these factors, each camp day wasn’t like the previous one.

Despite stress, tiredness and pressure to help kids have a good time throughout the whole week, it’s very possible to enjoy your work during camp! Most basic tips include preparing yourself, how you will interact with kids, what kind of activities you will propose to them (think about details, what you might do in case there are any changes). And also learn to go with the flow! Kids like when you make them equal and accept their ideas. They can also change their moods, whether they fight with each other, feel hungry or want some attention. Try to understand them and go with the flow to enjoy the process and notice more at the same time. This way, you will see what’s more interesting and helpful for them and for you own development in terms of camp’s program.

And what about the language barrier? Being in Poland for 5 months, we definitely understand some basics of Polish language, and speaking with kids (who sometimes aren’t so enthusiastic about speaking English), was a big motivation for us to learn more new words in a short time. It wasn’t so hard if you had more physical activities, though. If we had an artistic workshop, it could become a challenge without the support of our coordinators. Also usually there are a couple older kids in the group who are happy to show off their English skills and help you to explain some thing. Some of us also prepared language games to inspire kids to learn English more and also introduce them to our own native languages!

To sum up, you can make your first camp with kids enjoyable with some preparation for your activities and in general for different circumstances, and also with acceptance that sometimes things do go as planned. The kids will become your friends for that time and they will support ideas when they see your own interest and enthusiasm! You got this!

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