3 awesome weeks of mini children camp

Ciao Alex, è stato davvero bello conoscerti e spero di rivederti l’anno prossimo per un’altra avventura


When the general children camp finished (which I described in the previous post), I was involved in mini-Grest – the same children camp but with few differences. First of all, there were less children. For example, last time we got like 30 children and in this camp we got a group of 16-20 children. Secondly, now the groups were age-mixed. If my previous group included only children 6-8 years, this time I worked with children who are 6-11 years old. The last thing – the camp took a place only in the afternoon, so my workday was like 14.00-18.00. On one hand, I could relax during the morning, on the other hand – I was still dying under the Sun when it was the most powerful. And for 10-15 y.o. the leading activity is

The first week

Ciao Alex, mi sono divertita molto al Grest con te, cercando di parlarti in inglese. Ti aspetto l’anno prossimo per una nuova esperienza


The first week started with dividing children in different groups with one game. Finally, when I saw the kids of my group, I realized that some of them were like 10-11 years old and that meant that probably they prefer chatting to playing games and participating in different tournaments, which were proposed by organizing team. And that was true. The most of the children was out of the activities. Of course, they took a pat but without enthusiasm. It can be explained with the psychological theory of leading activities. The main idea of this concept is in different ages the person has a special activity which provides evolution of the personality. For example, for kids 4-8 y.o. the leading activity is playing. The game is the most useful recourse of progress. And for 10-15 the leading activity is intercommunication. The role of leaders and educators in the camps is very important for the kids, since they have a great wish to have a conversations with the animators, who are the model of behavior for them.

So since I’d met those children I got a feeling that time had come to speak Italian and I hadn’t no more chance of skipping it (like what I did when I worked with small children – with them it was enough to play and some interactions). But during the first week I observed that children even didn’t say hell to me and goodbye. They were chatting all the time with other animators and between themselves but I was absolutely out of their activity. Obviously, I was quite a strange person for them with terrible accent who often changed the speech to English language. So the first week, was absolutely withut children for me.

With my work mates it was a little bit better. I got an absolutely new work-team. Some educators arrived only for mini-grest, some of them had worked before and so they had known that I’m a foreign person there. Anyway,  during the first day we couldn’t build normal communication. The longest conversation was like – What do we do – answer; can I help you – answer. Sometimes they asked if I was fine and that’s all. I could feel that they were also confused to have me as a coworker and they had no idea how to have a chat with me. So the first I was not involved in the activities so much.T

The second week

Ciao Alex, grazie a te ho scoperto il gioco russo! 🙂


Team work as the key to successful actions

That week started with a good sign – some children greeted me in the beginning of the day and I already was happy to hear that. But that week everything changed. Some children 9-11 y.o. started chatting with me in English. Even they used the most simple phrases like “What’s your name?”; “Where are you from?”; “How old are you?” and so on – it was amazing. It was a symbol that they were interested in me and they appreciated my staying with them, otherwise they’d speak Italian or they wouldn’t speak at all. One day some guys also asked me what it means “What’s up?” and after explanation I told them that in non-formal conversations with friends you can use short form “Sup”. After that it was our greeting until the end of the camp.

With my work group also something changed. Surprisingly, they’d started speaking English with me. Just random questions or explanations of the activities. I still don’t understand exactly why that happened but I liked that a lot. And I could see how happy they were to take a try in English. When were together, like 5 or 6 animators, and I asked them to translate something for me, because I couldn’t understand – they were so inspired and they started talking all together, correcting themselves and searching needed words. I just enjoyed watching them at those moments.

The name effect. There is one theory n social psychological studying which named “the name effect”. The idea is very simple and maybe it seems quite naïve. When you call the person by his/her name, the person feels satisfaction. I could see how it works in a real life during my work. Firstly, some kids asked me if I could remember their names. When I gave them, the kids looked so happy and proud and right after that ran away. Secondly, some animators asked me about their names. I think the reason why they did it – I am from another country and we have other names and in Italy a lot of names are new for me and once in a while it takes time to remember a new name. I remember very good the situation when one educator asked me “What’s my name?” and after my answer she was so glad “Ooo, look, he remembers!”

The third week

Ciao Alex! Questa esperienza di Grest nuova per entrambi, è stata indimenticabile, mi è piaciuto davvero tanto lavorare con te! Un bacione


The last week started with preparations. During this time I had a nice chat with all educators about my follow trip and I asked about some advices what I could bring to my friends. For them, it was kind of examination of how good they are with their culture. I got some good information and I was absolutely satisfied with that. Also for me it was very important to propose a modification of one game and took a role in that activity.

With the kids it became better. Now I had a lot of chats with different kids during breaks and the topics were absolutely different. Those days we spoke and Italian and English. But I started speaking English more and more because I could see that it made children more interested. I suppose, they felt something new, something strange and that was the reason why they tried to speak with me more and more. And also the kids gave me nice advices about some presents! As we know, the children are the fans of sweets. They gave me some recommendations of Italian sweets and chocolates which I could find in the supermarkets. Even one kid had brought me a small from his mother, where she described some typical things. And for me it was one of the most pleasant moments.

The same situation was with my work mates. The most of time we chatting in English because it brought them some kind of satisfaction. We talked about everything. Not only about work as it was before. But the most important question, which I got from the kids and from the animators, was “Alex, will you come back next year here?”. For me it was a significant moment. I got this questions like 3 or 4 times. For me the meaning was that probably I did something in a correct way here.

The present from my group leader

Thanks to Grest, thanks to animators, thanks to children for this experience. I’ll miss it.


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