Learning and Games at the Summer Camp in Ba Vi National Park. From the 13th to the 17th of June, CED together with Thuc Nghiem School held its summer camp for secondary students of different ages from Thuc Nghiem School. The camp took place at Ba Vi National Park, which provided a perfect opportunity for the students to get closer to nature and explore. I was very lucky to get to go with CED to the summer camp.

We took a bus to the camp from Hanoi where we arrived in Ba Vi National Park soon after and the activities, lessons and games began. 
All of the children and volunteers as we have arrived in Ba Vi National Park
Each day of the camp included a science lesson, where the students would get to work on their own projects. On the first day, the children were split into teams, which they would work with for the rest of the summer camp. Each group had one of the Vietnamese volunteers guiding their group throughout the camp, which worked well as there was always someone to help the students if they had questions and provided them with a helping hand. For the science classes, the students were very good at working together in groups and complete their work with only a few distractions where they would start playing games. The lessons also included showing the children different experiments. 
There was always someone to help the students if they had questions and provided them with a helping hand
Besides the daily science lessons, the days spent at the camp also included several activities and other lessons each day. The activities included dancing and games, where the students really participated and had fun. It also became quite clear that making the activities into a competition was a good way to motivate the students – especially if it involved prices for the winning team! Prices would always make the students compete just a bit more and shout the correct answer just a little louder. The other lessons included a recycling class, a multicultural class and an arts class among more. These were a good mix of letting the students learn something but also participate and get their hands on while being creative and creating something new out of recycled things. 

Some of the lovely artwork made by the students in recycling class
Before dinner time each night, there would be sporting activities on a court where many of the boys had fun playing football and both girls and boys played badminton. They all had a lot of fun doing this and it was a nice break for all. One aspect that could be considered for the future was that few of the girl students joined and few of the female volunteers joined. The ones doing the sport had a lot of fun and it seemed like a very good break for the students doing something together which did not necessarily involve learning something. Another time, I think it would be beneficial to get more of the girls to join in on the activities – either by having a separate team for girls playing football or other sports they prefer. Thinking back to my own time doing outdoor activities as a kid in Denmark, the sporting activities were definitely a good way to bond with others, have fun as well as be more fresh and active. Many times it would be obligatory that everyone participated in different sports where there would be the means to have everyone participate and choose from many different sports.

The students playing badminton and an intense game of football in the background
On Wednesday we all did a hiking trip in the beautiful park where we passed by some waterfalls, lakes and lots of beautiful nature. The hiking trip was very good for the students, where a ranger was guiding them and giving them information about some of the plants we passed by and animal life in the lakes. This worked very well as an outdoor activity where the students got to interact with nature while learning something from the ranger. At the same time, it also seemed like a nice break from the classes for the students to have in the middle of the week.

We all did a hiking trip in the beautiful park where we passed by some waterfalls, lakes and lots of beautiful nature
Overall, the lessons and activities were the students got to interact, be active and observe meant that the students were very motivated and active. This showed me that this education based method of interaction and observation was very good for the students and proved very useful for effectively learning something besides all that is in their textbooks.

One aspect that I would like to emphasize which could be improved would be to include more hands-on experiments, where the students themselves would get to perform experiments or take advantage of the many benefits of being in Ba Vi National Park. When I look back to my own time in school, we would often collects plants from forests nearby or look into different animals by a lake. These were both a good break for getting some fresh air and at the same time, learn something about science in practice. Of course considering the hot and humid climate in summer, the camp in Ba Vi could for example include letting the students do experiments outside or do science projects which included collecting plants or finding different types of animals. This would both give the students a break and give them some hands-on experience – while they would still learn a lot by applying it to their science projects.

From the five days at the summer camp, I gained the impression that all the young students were very interested in and motivated to speak English
From the five days at the summer camp, I gained the impression that all the young students were very interested in and motivated to speak English. Already on the bus ride to the national park, some of the students were quick to invite me to sit next to them and no sooner, had they started introducing themselves and asking me questions in English. During the days at the camp as well, more and more of the students let go of their sometimes ‘shy-shell’ to begin with and approached me with lots of smiles and questions. The students were very open and it was very clear that they were very interested in communicating in English. It became clear early on that in terms of the students speaking English and their motivation to do, it was very beneficial that there were a few international volunteers at the camp as well whom the children had to communicate with in English. It is definitely something to consider in the future, if there are volunteers from abroad as the children just kept getting bolder and bolder and definitely better and better at speaking in English!  
The summer camp was a good mix of different activities, games, lessons and the students where everything was arranged where the students had a lot of fun and made new friendships while both learning and playing!

Me and another volunteer, Trang, also participated a bit in the arts class although it wasn’t nearly as
 pretty as the students’ work. :)

By  Rebeca


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