In this post TravelAid volunteer Rachel gives insight on what it is like to be a summer activities coordinator and how much happiness it can bring...
Having been a Brownie and helping out for a few years after, I found ideas for crafts, games, sports and songs come flooding back when we sat down to plan the 3 week summer programme. We tried to run one lively and one calmer activity in each morning/afternoon session, and all the kids loved to take part in everything. I’ve never seen boys colouring so neatly or singing so heartily!
Most mornings we started with an action song such as Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (a firm favourite –especially at high speed!) or Incy Wincy Spider. It’s so impressive how quickly they pick the songs up; most of the children aren’t great at reading English when we write the words on the board - it amazes me how well they can listen so carefully and repeat the words so accurately. And they understand the words, too (well, most of the time); one afternoon I sat down next to a girl who was flicking through a story book, pointing to the body parts of a frog and naming them in English!
They love party games such as musical statues and Duck, Duck, Goose, and it’s been great to learn some similar Khmer games. The kids are more than happy when sat outside in a circle with the suspense of maybe being picked next to race around and back to the same spot!
Duck duck goose and ladders game photos
A highlight of the sports activities has to be the sports day. We drew out a chalk race track on the playground, split the kids into Team Monkey and Team Rabbit and set up a score board. With the help of Reak Smey translating, the events kicked off with the relay, followed by a skipping race (most kids had an interesting technique, but it seemed to do the trick!). Next was a slow and focused egg and spoon race followed by a three legged hop, with no casualties, thankfully! Throwing and hula hoops competitions, an obstacle course and Bulldog resulted in a 4-4 draw so we awarded everyone with a medal they’d made in a previous craft activity, and a snack. They absolutely loved it!
The theme of our second week was Nature, so one morning we took to the garden and gave it a spring clean; all the kids came of their own accord and started helping me yank up weeds, saying ‘Cha!’ reproachfully when I accidently pulled up a plant.
We also taught them the names of fruits, and organized a treasure hunt, hiding rambutans all over the garden.
Working here in Siem Reap has been an absolutely brilliant experience. I will never forget the affection the children show and their shouts of ‘Cha, Cha!’ when they want to show me their work or wave goodbye. Their constant shouts, squeals, giggles and general excitement brings it home how much they love the school – it’s so valuable in providing a space for play, friendships and an opportunity to use resources they may never otherwise see. JWOC does such a valuable job, it’s great!