CHLOE DEFTY: CAMP THAILChloe Defty: Camp Thailand Krasang, Buriram (Camp B) Program Report – July 2017 intakeAND KRASANG
I arrived in the airport eager to meet everyone in my intake. I was actually meeting a friend from home, but before she had arrived I had already made two new friends… it was that easy! We were greeted by the some of the Camp Thailand team who took us to our hotel. Now, I’m a seasoned globe trotter, but Bangkok is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. There is so much to see and life certainly is a different calibre over there…. and the traffic is CRAZY!! After arriving at our hotel, we were given some much needed R&R time before our first organised camp activity that evening… a pool party! The pool party was definitely an interesting experience, I had my first street food, I ate a silk worm and I had a chance to bond with my new campmates. The next day we were up early ready to leave on our Bangkok tour (which costs extra but is certainly worth it!). We walked down to the river to board our riverboat to travel through the canals of Bangkok… who knew! It was an amazing way to travel through the centre of Bangkok. There was so much to see and it provided a completely unique perspective of the city… and we avoided that crazy traffic! Once we disembarked our riverboat, we visited Wat Pho, the temple of the Reclining Buddha. It is one of the largest temple complexes in the city and it is absolutely stunning! I was so interested to learn more about the Thai culture and religion is a huge part of that. One piece of advice I would give you is to pack clothes that will cover your shoulders and knees as it is extremely disrespectful to have exposed shoulders or skin above the knee. After our visit to the temple, I had my very first Thai meal in Thailand…Pad Thai.
After lunch, we took tuk-tuks to the Golden Mount Temple. Riding on a tuk-tuk was something that’s been on my bucket list for a few years now and the experience was everything I hoped it would be! Once we arrived, we were met by this amazingly tall golden building that quite literally took everyone’s breath away as we had to climb up 300+ steps to get to the top… but those views are so worth it!
That evening, we went to a rooftop bar party and it was amazing. I’m not a massive party girl so the bar experience wasn’t the best part of it for me although I know for some of my campmates it was! But seeing the city in the dark all lit up was great, not to mention the traditional Thai dancers and the Thai massages that we were given in the middle of this bar! The night gave us a chance to get to know everyone in a relaxed environment before we headed to camp.
Camp B Life
We woke up early to head to Camp B which is based in Krasang, which is a mere 7 hours away from Bangkok. The coach journey went by so quickly and suddenly, we found ourselves at Camp. On arrival we met all of the amazing staff at Camp B who were so friendly and instantly made everyone feel welcome and safe, especially our Camp mum Nina, who made sure everyone was okay and gave everyone advice and cuddles whenever we needed them!
We were given a tour of the village so that we knew where everything was including the 7/11 and the local restaurants (I highly recommend Susie’s if you want to experience some amazing Thai food!). My favourite thing about Krasang is that it’s not westernised at all so you really are getting the real Thai experience, which is exactly why I signed up to this specific Camp location. Then we were assigned our rooms. The rooms had cute bunk beds which made making friends an adventure and we spent many a late night talking about our lives and why we were in Thailand.
Our first day was a day at the lake! I found this whole experience hilarious as the lake was called Tung Kula and was pronounced tongue cooler! It was the perfect first day at camp, the weather was perfect and we spent the whole day relaxing in rubber rings. Bliss!
We also had a chance to take part in some Muay Thai boxing classes. And let me tell you, it’s amazing how flexible you can be when you’re beating the baloney out of somebody!
An additional activity that was offered to us for 1100 baht (around £30) was to go to a football match in Buriram. It was amazing the atmosphere was totally different to matches in the UK but the game was just as good!
We had the opportunity to visit the local Silk Village and learn some traditional Thai dancing and we organised our own trip to the local temples in Buriram and went what we dubbed at ‘Temple Touring’. We hired a truck from Camp and the lovely Hack drove us to a number of temples in the area which we explored extensively.
Then we started teaching in the local schools. I have had the most incredible experience teaching in Thailand! To volunteer at different schools with different age ranges, and abilities was an amazing challenge for me as a trainee teacher and so rewarding!!! The children were so enthusiastic to learn and it was just amazing to be able to provide children with the chance to learn English and make a small difference in their lives!
The first two days of teaching was at a summer camp where we spent time teaching Thai children skills such as making sandwiches and the corresponding English words. The difference in ability of these children was astounding and completely depended on their exposure to English in other aspects of their lives. This was particularly helpful to me as a trainee teacher in terms of how I would now approach teaching EAL children!
The lessons I taught ranged from unstructured play, structured play, songs and games to formal lessons depending upon the age and ability of the group I was working with. In the 3 weeks I taught many different age groups including, nursery children, KS1 children, KS2 children, KS3 children and even older. I had the pleasure of teaching some monks which was a very humbling experience especially when we were blessed afterwards.
Another highlight for me was definitely the day we spent volunteering at the Country Roads’ Elephant Sanctuary. I did so much research about this place before we came because I was worried about the mistreatment of the elephants but I could not have been more wrong! This programme is such an important one and it is doing some amazing things for these elephants and their mahouts! We had the opportunity to feed and bathe the elephants after walking them down to the local river. It was such an incredible experience that I feel so lucky to have had. And it was all topped off by the most amazing meal that Nang’s mum cooked… seriously, I’ll be dreaming of those chips for the rest of my life!
I would definitely recommend this programme to others because it has impacted my life so positively. I have been so lucky to have had this opportunity of a lifetime and I would urge people considering this programme to sign up for the best 3 weeks of your life!
One last piece of advice, go to Thailand with an open mind… don’t expect too much and this country will change your life in ways in which you would never expect!