THOMAS CHUDLEY - JANUARY, 2016
My Camp Thailand Experience.
Thomas Chudley - January, 2016
When I confirmed my place on the Camp Thailand trip I had a wave of excitement and anticipation strike me. This was more than just a holiday, you would be doing great things for people who really need and would appreciate it. There was a constant band of contact between myself and the office in Manchester which made me feel very assured and comfortable before I had even left. As the times got closer I was a little worried about getting there and not knowing anybody but about a week and a half before leaving a group chat was set up by Camp Thailand on Whatsapp Messenger which allowed us to talk to one another and make the transition to meeting one another easier. This was particularly useful for me as I found out there was 3 other people on the same flight as me so we all met before we even got to Thailand!
After arriving into Bangkok and getting to our hotel we were greeted by the Camp Manager Rebecca who throughout the whole of the journey that she was with us made sure that everything ran smoothly as possible whilst we were getting used to being so far from home. We had an amazing night out on the famous Khaosan Road in Bangkok before starting are expedition down to Phuket for one week.
We had a VIP bus take us down to Phuket which was a 14 hour journey. Fear not though! These buses had massage seats which went totally flat so y ou could catch up on some much needed sleep before you arrived.
On arrival into Phuket I was greeted by outrageously beautiful beaches and a whole new cohort of people that were doing the on location TEFL course with the aim of getting a placement in a school in Thailand. After dropping my bags at the beachside hotel I took a wonder down the beach where there was a clean-up happening, if you did pick lots of rubbish up from the beach you got free food (Who doesn’t love free food?!). Over the course of the week we did so many fun things such as snorkelling, trips to the Big Buddha and a night out on the main party road in Patong. During the day there were training sessions held by the director Philip and his wife Kwang which were very insightful and gave us a little feeling of what it would be like to teach in Thailand.
I left Phuket with the tourist experience lived and satisfied that I had seen some beautiful things and amazing places. The next stop was Krasang, (Camp B, Buriram Province) some 23 hours away by road from Phuket. That good old VIP bus. On arrival I was amazed by how simple yet effective everything was, we settled in on the day of arrival and got used to are new surroundings. The rooms were all air conditioned and had shower access as well as a lock draw which you can put all of your valuables into. Even though I felt as though I was in the middle of nowhere, there is still so much to do such as massive lake that has covered rafts that take you out to the middle where you can go swimming and get a crazy good tan! The elephants are absolutely amazing and it is a true lifetime experience that I know myself will never forget.
The teaching was another huge part of the experience that was so much fun and rewarding, I have never seen so many children so eager to learn! On a Monday at lunchtime myself and my group would all gather into a room and we would learn a little bit of Thai and create a basic lesson plan to use for that week as well as props and prompts that would help them remember. It was really basic stuff for us who speak English fluently to create a lesson plan but teaching these things to young children who speak a different first language is a whole other challenge! Like us trying to learn Thai, that’s how it was when we started speaking in English. It was mostly made of fun games that they would remember and be able to replicate. The classes were pretty big (30 to a group) but Phil, Kwang and Rebecca were all super helpful, if we were struggling to control the class one of them would step in and help us get their attention back and give them instructions.
My group visited a lot of different schools including massive secondary schools and tiny monk schools in the local area, all of which were very welcoming and easy going. We had dinner cooked for us by the school at lunch time which I myself enjoyed but received mixed receptions from some others on the course, if you didn’t like the food you could go to one of the local restaurant and get something that you like.
All in all there is so much more I could write about during my time at Camp Thailand but I would not want to ruin the amazing experience that people who want to come will get as it is something truly unbelievable. Any doubts I had before leaving me left in the dust by the experience that I had out in Thailand. I would love to go back in the future as it is nothing like what you think it is going to be, IT’S SO MUCH BETTER!
Thomas Chudley January, 2016