Making Connections: Students, Teachers, Colleagues, Community

By Nicki Thompson — As a credit teacher at El Lago del Bosque – Wilder Spanish immersion camp, I worked with a group of students 14-17 looking to earn a year of high school credit in one month.

I taught two hours of normal “class” every day, a half-hour of conversation class, and an hour-long workshop on a special topic (the workshop I offered was Mexican Muralism). I also lived with the seven credit girls in the same casa, or cabin, and ate breakfast and dinner with them everyday. We did “Rosas y Espinas” or “Roses and Thorns” every night before bed to reflect what they liked and didn’t like that day. We bonded so much during that time, and the relationship I had with the girls was great.  

Friday night was our last night together as a casa, as they left to go home on Saturday. Our final “Rosas y Espinas” was filled with tears, as girls said their only Rosa was that they spent the last month with the other girls. On Saturday morning many of their parents came to see the Parent Program. They presented all of the things that they learned and were able to explain the Portfolio (the final product that demonstrates what they are able to do in Spanish), showed the benches we painted in our Mexican Muralism taller, and sang songs.

Our final goodbye was full of tears and hugs. Four of the girls returned home on an airplane, and left together, while three of them left with their parents. Splitting our group in two was absolutely heartbreaking, and I was also in tears. It was in that moment that I realized how powerful a camp like this is for kids.

Through learning Spanish together they formed a community in which they were dependent on one another. The girls with more Spanish experienced helped those who hadn’t taken much of the language before. They played sports together, made bracelets together, and laughed and cried together. Admittedly one of the hardest parts of my entire summer was saying goodbye to the girls, because I’m not able to talk to them after the session is over. However, I know the connections we made will remain in our hearts and memories until we see each other again at camp.

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