Friday, February 10, 2017

Camping Trip (part 1)

The experiences continue!  The memories continue to be made.  This time, 28 hours-in-a-row's worth of experience.  You see, we went a-campin'.  But not by our lonesome selves.  We went camping with 35 kids and 11 teachers.  It was the great annual Scouts Camping Trip! (Thailand Edition)  And I have to say, it was a beautiful thing.
Normally, what happens at Scouts Camp, stays at Scouts Camp! But if you are a farang with a blog, I think you get a pass.  So I'm going to let you in on the adventure...

This whole thing started out weeks ago in the planning stage.  There were meetings upon meetings to delegate responsibilities, explain scenarios, clarify confusion and then change things around again.  Unfortunately, I didn't attend one of those meetings because I have to teach a class at 3:00 (when the meetings usually occur) so I got all my info second hand through Jess.  But in the last few days before camp, I can tell you that teachers were as busy as bees preparing lesson and gathering materials.  The students couldn't think of anything else either.  They had looked forward to this all year.
The morning of Scouts Camp arrive on Thursday.  We packed in the car and drove to a National Park not too far from our house actually - only about a 25 minute drive away.  Situated on the banks of the Kok River, the land is heavily shaded by huge Teak, Eucalyptus, and other tropical trees.  We dropped off our car and got a ride back down the road to an elephant camp that was to serve as the start of the kids 4 kilometer walk to camp.  When all the kids were accounted for, the ceremonies began with some of the teachers, myself included, dipping our fingers in colorful dyes and painting the students faces in fun designs.  Then we set off, single file, down the road.  It took us about 50 minutes to cover the distance, only stopping once on a bridge to snap a group photo.  I was in charge of the upper elementary boys who were walking at the front of the pack, so it was us who heard the drums beating first, calling us toward the camp and guiding us towards Kru Name, the real leader of the camp.

Kru Name is the P.E. teacher at Pitisuksa, and also the Scouts Leader there.  Being the Scouts Leader means he was also the mastermind behind the camp activities and the guys who set up most of the infrastructure of the camp, including the stage (yes, there was a stage) with lighting and sound system, the lights strung around the tent area, the little oil lamps made out of glass energy drink bottles that lined the walkway into and out of camp, and the signs telling the campers where to go and what to do.  But I digress...

When all the campers were assembled into 4 rows, there was some singing and more ceremony (complete with drumming and guitar playing) and then the campers had to crawl, one by one, through a tunnel of bamboo branches to signify their real arrival into Scouts Camp.  Then even more ceremony, as the flag was raised, the National Anthem was sung, and the director of the school officially welcomed everyone and started Scouts Camp.  Finally, campers were given a few hours to set up their tens, cook, eat and clean up from lunch and assemble again for the beginning of the teacher's activities.
In the next entry, I will give all the details and stories of the rest of the camping trip.  There's just too much fun to put in one entry!