During the summer we ran a summer camp for Russian teenagers wanting to learn English and experience Japanese culture.
They stayed in log bungalows in the mountains for 10 days at a place called kenkonomori which translates as the forest of health.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner was made for them including several chances to eat out.
We had two groups visit us. The first group was made up of 11 members and the second group was made up of 15 members.
The building behind them is where we studied.
The students studied 3 hours a day in the morning. Both groups had mixed ages. Two classes were made. One at A1 level and the other made at B1 level. This means Elementary level and pre-intermediate level. To determine their level we needed to give the students a level test.
During the course we gave the students opportunities to talk to locals that were studying English.
For the coursework we were using the pearson firsthand series of textbooks. The higher level class completed all the units of firsthand 2 while the lower class went through firsthand access and success.
In the afternoons for daily activities taking between 3 and 4 hours everyday and all day on Saturdays. Here are the things we did.
Day 1: Icebreaker
The first activity day was a chance for the students to get to know each other, this was the first time any of them had met So instead of going out we stayed at the school and played board games.
Day 2: Vogel Park and Matsue Castle
Vogel Park is a bird sanctuary with various bird shows to watch and a chance to feed tropical birds.
Matsue Castle is one of the few remaining wooden castles in Japan. Recently, parts of the structure have been confirmed to be part of the original structure built 400 years ago.
Day 3: Japanese sports day
The Russian students got to participate with local Japanese students in a range of activities based on the Elementary school sports day.
The first event was the Darumasan relay
The second event was Tamaire where teams have to throw as many small bean sacks into a basket two metres in the air in two minutes. Unfortunately we have no pictures of this event.
The second event was a bottle filling relay. Students had to run to a bottle, pour some water in it and run back. Whichever group filled it up first one.
The third event was jumping rope as a group. Both teams had to stand in line and see how many times they could jump. Each team had 12 representatives. After several practices runs the best score for the first team was 9 jumps and the best score for the second jump was 24. It’s actually not that easy. You have to jump in tandem to achieve it. Unfortunately we took no photos of this event.
The fourth event was an old classic. The tug of war.
The fifth and final event was the American football relay. First in pairs people had to kick an american football along the ground to a witches hat at the other end while in a hula-hoop. Once there they bound their legs together to do a three legged race. Yes, it is awesome fun.
Day 4: Japanese Culture lessons
On the third day we did two cultural lessons. The first was Japanese Abacus known as Soroban taught by a professional Abacus teacher.
The other cultural lesson was Japanese calligraphy taught by an award winning calligraphist.
Day 5: Nature Day
On Nature day we took a trip to Ryuzugataki, dragon head falls in English. A beautiful location for a swim up in the mountains.
As well as the falls we also went to Yaeyama Shrine. A small shinto shrine high up in the mountains near the falls.
Phew that’s a lot of fun in one post. I think I better do this in two or three parts.
Stay tuned for more.