First BOOKBRIDGE Summer Camp in Mongolia

"Active Listening" session during the Life Skills training
“Active Listening” session during the Life Skills training
This year, BOOKBRIDGE Mongolia has organized a summer camp for the first time. The camp took place from July 2-7 and was a great success. Swiss Lea, currently volunteer at our learning center in Arvaikheer, Mongolia shares her impressions.

More than a week has passed since the first English BOOKBRIDGE camp has finished. And what can I say: All in all it was just a real success! Friendships were built between the kids from Khenti, Uvurkhangai, Umnugobi, Selenge, Murun and Dund-Govi where BOOKBRIDGE runs learning centers. And one could see how the students grew in many aspect during these few days. And the best part is: while playing games, being active and improving their life-skills the students were improving their English without even realizing it.

Group "Sharks" prepares their performance
Group “Sharks” prepares their performance
But let’s start at the beginning: On the 1st of July BOOKBRIDGE volunteers arrived at the camp site and were far from amused when they saw how the last campers left the camp buildings. They worked all night to clean and prepare the camp for the students and teachers who should arrive the next day. They gained all our gratitude for their hard work for making the property ready for the camp!

The camp started on July 2 with a joyful train ride and some hiking to the camp place outside of Ulaanbaatar. The kids didn’t know what to expect as it was the first camp like this. Many of the participants were even sceptical at the beginning as the camp was so different from any other camp they had been part of. Some students started to make some troubles on the second day by coming late and distracting others and other non-adequate behavior. But after explaining them what the goal of this camp is and how much effort the teachers and volunteers put in it they started to change and some of them even won in the daily competitions because they were so helpful and active campers!

Discussing about the group name
Discussing about the group name
But I am jumping forward again. So let’s go back to the 2nd of July: When the students arrived they were assigned to five different groups in which they would attend the different activities during the week. Then each group had to decide for a name and a matching performance to present the name. They did a great job!

Afterwards the camp rules were presented in an interactive play. During the play, Buba (who played the “good camper”) had always different options how she could react and the kids had to decide which would be an appropriate reaction to the situation. Everyone loved this play and the students kept on reciting it during the week.

The camp routine
On the second day “the camp routine” started. Here is an impression of how a camp-day looked like: After washing and cleaning oneself, one got breakfast. At 9:30 the students got informed about the new daily competition, who won the previous daily competition and the schedule of the day. Every day there was a new daily competition. For example one day it was volunteerism and the students who helped setting up the karaoke night without having to, won the competition and got a nice necklace or bracelet the next morning. After that, the five groups attended different activities. The activities were every day the same but the groups rotated so every group joined each activity once during the week.

The art corner
The art corner
After the activities the kids had tea break and some free-time before lunch. After lunchbreak the groups attended new activities like river-activity or life-skills. In the evening the students had the choice to attend Zumba, yoga, art-corner, game-corner or movie corner. After another meal we had different evening activities like disco night, karaoke, a bonfire… In-between and after the mandatory activities the kids spent time with each other and with the volunteering students and Peace Corps students.

And then, sooner than we wanted, the week was over. The only complaints the kids had in the end was that there was too much food and that they would have loved to stay longer. Probably the hardest part of the week was saying goodbye. Some kids were even crying when saying goodbye to each other and they promised each other to come again to next year’s BOOKBRIDGE camp.

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