By Nicki Thompson – As a kid growing up, I went to summer camp a few times – the Summer Music Clinic in Madison and a leadership camp through WASC (Wisconsin Association of School Councils) in Green Bay.
I truly enjoyed my time at camp, but in high school and college, my summers became filled with part-time and full-time jobs. Now that I’m teaching, I have the opportunity to return to camp, but this time in a different capacity – as a counselor.
I am fortunate enough to be working at El Lago del Bosque, a Spanish language camp through Concordia Language Villages. As I teach Spanish during the year, this is an amazing opportunity to become a better teacher during the summer months. El Lago del Bosque offers a full immersion opportunity for the aldeanos, or villagers. Although I’ve only been here a week, I have learned so much about counseling, teaching, creativity, and flexibility.
The most important thing I’ve learned at this point is that I can speak completely in Spanish to kids who have little-to-no-experience with Spanish. The counselors are each responsible for a casa of 4-6 aldeanos, and we eat meals together, clean together, participate in activities together, and become very close. My girls are going into 8th or 9th grade and most haven’t been to this camp before. A few of them have had a year of middle school Spanish, but I only speak to them in Spanish… and they understand me!
It just takes a lot of gestures and a little patience. I am definitely going to transfer over what I’ve learned to my practice as a teacher. I am now realizing I relied too much on English while I taught Spanish, and I don’t need to do that. I just need to focus on using Spanish entirely and use gestures while I am speaking.
I am enjoying my time here so much and can’t wait to write more about my experience here in El Lago del Bosque!