English Camp : Ratnapura, Sri Lanka-
January 16-18, 2004
I informed Tucker McCravy, President of
Serendib, that I was visiting Sri Lanka on vacation in January 2004 and
that I would be interested in observing a mini English Immersion Camp.
The English Camp Foundation in Sri Lanka organized a 3-day mini English
Immersion Camp. The camp was held at Ferguson Girls School organized in
conjunction with the English Department of the school. Ms. Champika
Weerasinghe, Secretary of the English Camp Foundation was mainly
responsible for organizing this camp with the other members of the
Foundation and the English teachers of Serendib.
I was able to participate only on the
Sunday, January 18. When we arrived at 8:00 am, the students were busy
with their warm up exercises for the day. They were divided into teams
and stayed within these teams throughout the camp. I was very impressed
by the enthusiasm and energy with which the teachers continued to interact
with the students throughout the day, considering the fact that this was
the third day of the camp. The teachers had built a rapport with the
students and there was enthusiastic participation from the students, even
the quiet ones. There were no barriers for these children,
The different activities planned for the
day also encouraged the students to participate by taking on different
roles and acting out these roles. The outdoor activities were also
planned to help each one to speak the language, follow instructions and
provide an opportunity for each one to fully participate in the program.
The meals were organized upstairs in the
school building and this was also a time when they had fun. Mr. Wijendra
led the students to sing camp songs and there was a competition among the
teams to select the best team. The teachers assigned to the teams were
very enthusiastic, encouraging their teams to give of their best.
Later in the afternoon we had a game
outdoors with everyone participating including myself and Asanka Fernando
who accompanied me. This was such fun with a balloon filled with water
that had to be thrown across to your partner. If the balloon burst you
were out of the game. At this time parents and sibling of the students
had arrived and they too were able to witness this activity at the camp.
The final item on the program was the
concert and the chief guest was the Principal of Ferguson High School. I
was very impressed by the ideas behind the items. There was participation
from all team members. They expressed themselves very well and there was
a strong sense of humor built into the events. The teams were given two
hours to practice and organize props, etc. The teachers assigned to the
teams spent a lot of time working with them and encouraging the students
to be creative.
On behalf of the English Foundation,
Teachers and the students Mr. Jayawardena thanked the Board members and
supporters of Serendib for the organizing the fund raising event which
provided the resources to cover the cost of the August 2003 English
camp. He also thanked me for making the trip to Ratnapura to observe the
This was a tremendous experience for me as
I had been a Board member of Serendib for almost two years but did not
have an opportunity to observe a camp until this visit. This experience
brought home to me the crucial role these camps can and will play into
improving the capabilities of the rural children. Developing their
English skills and giving them greater learning opportunities will empower
them with more choices for their future education.