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Italian adventure – Jess and Isaac’s experience

Jess and Isaac have recently returned from being Mountain Camp Counselors in Italy. Here’s some feedback on their experiences teaching, leading activities and life in Italy.

Arrival

Isaac: Both I and Jess felt slightly anxious on the travel from what to expect, as we had never done anything like this before we both felt that we might've been out of our depth. However, the introduction given at WEP, Torino really calmed us both down and settled us, allowing for a clear mind-set when we arrived at Bardonecchia.

The stay we had in Torino was a lot of fun, and we both feel that without these three days our team would not have been as strong as it was for the following fortnight! Also the relaxed approach that the staff at WEP had really made us both feel comfortable in the city.

The next day also went really well for us, we arrived in Bardonecchia to be greeted by Costanza, which was lovely as she helped us to settle in at the Villagio Olympico! Some children arrived early on the Saturday and this was also great as it eased us in to what was to come the next day. We watched a film, and the children were very easy to get on with!

The first check in went OK. We found it difficult purely because of our lack of Italian, but once the children had all been checked in, we knew what to expect from the next week. Speaking to the parents was very fun, however, the organisation for our first day (as you would expect) was poor. But we took what we learnt in our stride and made the needed changes for the next Sunday’s check in, which went so much better!

Lessons

Isaac: I was personally worried about my English lessons, I did not want to be boring; but I knew the kids had to learn. However, saying this, I found that after the first lesson all of these anxieties faded away. I thoroughly enjoyed teaching, and made sure that the children were engaged. Using prizes (such as games) as incentives really helped keep the kids engaged!

Three hours was a great amount of time to teach, and with a ten minute break every now and then, the children were also very well behaved and focused. The only thing that was really difficult over the first two days was having only one Italian speaker in the staff, the children spoke only to her to ask for small things and this was frustrating to watch. Having said this, I found that after the ice had broken and the children became more confident with us/speaking English, this stopped. 

Jess: On the first Sunday, I was quite anxious about my first English lesson the next morning as I felt I had not prepped enough, especially as I was taking on an advanced class, and was worried I would run out of things to do with them. However, after my first lesson, I realised that the children were eager to learn English, join in with all the activities, and this made it easy for the lessons to flow. I connected with the children really well, and found that
I was genuinely upset to say goodbye to them, so much so, I have kept in contact with four of the girls in my class! 

Activities included:

•     Sports Tournament

•     Outdoor Excursion  

•     Horse Riding

•     Mountain Biking

•     Theatre

•     Karaoke

Our Team

Isaac: Myself and Jess both thoroughly enjoyed working within this team. Our evening in Torino helped us bond, and this continued through the weeks! We are great friends now and are meeting up again. 

What a great experience! I really enjoyed myself during the week and found myself feeling really enthusiastic and passionate about the children's experience being the best it could be. I really wanted to engage with the children so found myself doing the activities with the children which was actually really fun and resulted in some really great connections and bonding with the children! 

Overall

Isaac: I really enjoyed my time with WEP, both in Turin and at Camp! I really enjoyed meeting the children and think that it was a life changing experience for myself! I would love to apply for the position next year, and I hope that the children enjoyed my company as much as I enjoyed theirs! One of the most rewarding moments was hearing that one child who was in my class for week one, went on to teach other children in his new class, the things I had taught the previous week.

I have found it difficult to put into words how incredible I found working with the children was and I would once again like to say thank you so much for letting me do this wonderful experience!

Jess: Overall, this experience as a camp counsellor with WEP has honestly been one of the most amazing and rewarding experiences of my life! I had never taught before, so honestly was anxious about how the children would feel towards me. However, when I began to bond with the children, I found they opened up to me and felt at ease when speaking English with me, which was a lovely feeling!

I really bonded also with my team, and the staff at Villagio Olympico, which made the two weeks run even smoother. I find that having a really positive mentality not only helped me when pushing through parts of the week where I was tired etc, really helped the children stay enthusiastic too. 

All in all, I would love to return next year as a camp counsellor!