Since it has been already a week as the Summer English Kids camp took off at LCC, we interviewed Sarune Tilvikaite, the Student Success Center coordinator who has been organising and leading LCC Summer English kids camps for 5 years now.
How is LCC kids camp different from other summer camps?
Throughout the years that I have been working with the kids camps here at LCC, we have grown incredibly, from 20 kids registering and participating back then and up to 60-65 kids this year. Because of the growing scope we decided to organize the camp twice this summer so that more kids have a chance to come and be a part of our warm summer english community. This is a day camp that lasts for two weeks and starts at 9 a.m. and finishes at 4 p.m. every day. The purpose of the camp is to teach English to kids from 2nd to 5th grade in an all-English environment through games and other fun activities. The common fear among parents is that the camp is “just another school except in summer”. That is not how it works. We understand that summer is that chill and fun time when children hardly want to sit in the classroom and listen to the lectures. We teach English by engaging children in all sorts of dynamic and exciting activities: we do sports, play games, do projects, crafts, sing songs, encourage children to talk with each other in English and make friendships this way. While we still do have formal lessons in the classrooms in which children learn reading, grammar, spelling, writing, those constitute only about 2 hours out of 8 that children spend here.
What kind of projects do the kids get involved in as a part of their learning experience?
Every year the camp has different themes. For example, last year it was “Walk of Fame”; this year it is “Welcome to the Jungle”. The overall camp theme is then broken down into daily themes, and the projects that we do reflect those themes and vary. We can create clubs and let children choose which one they like and affiliate with it. Those can be sports clubs, cooking clubs, photography clubs. For sports club children are involved in competitions, for cooking club children are provided with materials and cook together, in photography club we teach children how take a good picture from a good angle and with good composition, and so forth. We also organize theater in which children dress up in costumes, learn a play and perform it. Children have lots and lots of fun. I wish I had had the same opportunity in my childhood
Who are the teachers?
Staff members are all native and native-like speakers of English and qualified to work with kids. We have core staff members who return every summer, but we also have new staff, and all are trained prior the camp during May to refresh the skills and be the team leaders for the two weeks of the camp. We have a good system of teams too: usually we have kids teamed up by 10-12 and supervised and cared for by two leaders, so we ensure that every kid receives individual approach and is looked after.
What would you recommend to parents before sending their children to the camp this summer?
First and sure thing is to talk to children and psychologically prepare them to interact with many other kids. Another thing that we, as leaders, would appreciate, is if parents educated children to listen to the team leader and to behave according to the leaders’ feedback. A wise thing to do is not to give them too much money – kids usually spend much of it on snacks from the vending machine while in fact we provide them with filling meals and treat them with snacks like fresh fruit, cookies, ice-cream, or alike. We emphasize this in camp, but a child should also know prior to the camp that he or she should behave respectfully towards others.
What do you enjoy most about these camps?
The happy faces of children is the best reward for our work. When I see a kid laugh, I know what we do is worthwhile. Another thing that is of high importance and joy for me is when I notice the improvement in English in children, which is basically the goal of our camp. When I compare the English skills of a child at the beginning of the camp and the way he or she has improved them by the end, I can’t help smiling. I simply love seeing children leave the camp with happy memories and improved proficiency in English.