You know your students should practice their English over their vacation or break from class, but you have little time to coordinate vacation activities, and students seem to lack interest.
A 2-Day Adventure Camp that is simple and short – as well as unique and fun – may work for you! With these 9 steps, you can plan a camp from start to finish in a week, and maybe even make some extra money when your class schedule is vacant.
Plan Your Adventure Camp in a Smart Way
Poll Students to Establish Interest and Preferred Themes
Ask students 1) what they want to do over vacation, 2) if they would participate in an activity, and 3) how much money they would spend on an activity. You should be able to visualize a budget and participation number from a quick five minute conversation.
Pick a Venue That Is Free or Cheap and That Can Be a Platform for Activities
One of the barriers to having any sort of camp is cost. The greatest cost with a camp is the venue. Here are some ideas of places where you can host a camp that will keep costs down and also be adventure platforms for fun activities!
- A local park: If you group is large, you can ask parents or older teens to accompany the group to help. Pick a place that is close by to keep your transportation costs down. Make your camp a day camp to keep costs down.
- If you do not have local parks, or if your weather is poor, ask one of the student´s parents if you can use his home. Pick a parent that has a large house with a big patio and preferably value-added material goods like trampolines.
- Ask a local public school if you can use its facilities. Preferably the school will have playing fields, activity gyms, an auditorium, a pool, and other value-added activity boosters.
- Go somewhere interesting, like a museum, that is free or requires only a small day admission.
Figure out a Caterer
Students need lunch, 2 snacks, and drinks. You can eliminate this cost by telling students to pack and bring everything, or minimize the cost by asking them to bring lunch and only catering snacks. Have a water cooler available to minimize drink costs. Food is a great way to entice students, however! Also eating time can be fun, especially if you plan food games, like sandwich building contests where students can only put the foods that they can name in English on their buns.
Design Your Adventure Activities
Based on your location and desired budget, plan activities for students to practice depending on their learning level and age. The keys are to disguise as much learning as possible as adventure games and to stick to review as opposed to learning new concepts. For examples:
- For children: For little kids, you can use a pirate theme and plan the whole two days as an adventure to discover a buried treasure prize. Give groups, or individuals depending on your camp size, game playing boards designed as maps with 4-5 activity stations each day. Activity stations should incorporate basic grammar and vocabulary, such as a sail to Skull Island racing game where students have to match the right color parrots, animals, or other vocabulary from a list to pictures to gain a certain amount of distance to the island. Each right answer can be 2 miles toward 44 miles, or whatever distance. The groups win points on a scale in order of those that complete the activity in less time. The group with the most points after completing all of the activities at the end of the two days wins the treasure!
- For adults/advanced learners: You can be more creative with your advanced learners and adults. Go to a nice park close by and supply value-added adventure activities, depending on your group’s energy level and what their polled interests were. For example, you can choose a park with a pool if they indicated they wanted to swim, or with nice hiking trails if they wanted to hike, or with a baseball field if they want to play. If the weather is poor where you are, split the camp into two Saturdays and plan to visit two different interesting museums in the city, or some other indoors local getaway.
Adults will probably respond poorly to a game, so disguise learning activities with an adult theme or a value-added activity. If you are at a park hiking, you can give each student five secret vocabulary words and task her/him to work those words into conversation as much as possible throughout the morning. Also prepare conversation interview questions for them and have them hike in pairs and talk about a childhood event, or a work story. At lunch or at a hiking rest, ask them to relay what they learned about their partners and see if students can guess what the secret words of their colleagues mean!
Establish a Budget
Estimate a working budget so you can establish price for your students. Elements of your budget will be:
- Cost of venue rental, if any.
- Your salary and salary of any interns or additional staff for a big group.
- Food and drinks.
- Transportation (if parents cannot bring them).
- Chair and table rentals and/or transportation of them if a supply is available.
- Museum or activity fees if applicable.
Seek Sponsorship or Funding If Necessary
If your students are disadvantaged, ask a local corporation to underwrite the costs. Banks are great suspects; you can send a one page letter outlining your cause and then call the manager and visit her for a conversation a few days later. You can also receive food gift certificates or credits from a number of grocery store chains, such as Safeway.
Design an Invitation
Make a simple flyer highlighting the fun/adventure aspects of the camp, advertising costs, and providing details of place, location, dates, and times. Invite all students personally with a flyer.
Ask Students to RSVP and Leave a Deposit
On the flyer and verbally, give an RSVP and deposit date for the camp. A deposit is necessary to ensure participation, and probably to cover your set up costs. Set the deadline before your class ends.
After you have an idea of how many are coming, recruit volunteers to help organize and plan the event. These can be one or two parents or a motivated student that wants a discount on their camp fee!
Once you complete these 9 steps, you will have easily planned an adventure camp for your ESL students in which both they and you will want to participate!
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