Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Camp... fun, but sure glad it's over

So, as previously mentioned, I spent each morning last week teaching a class at our church's Summer Religion Camp. The camp is quite an elaborate production with tents and pavilions set up indoors and out, drama productions as well as a variety of classes and discussions. This year we had over 150 kids attend, with 120 youth and adults volunteering to teach and provide support services at the camp.

My friend Jon, a fellow stay-at-home dad, and I volunteered to help out in the preschool camp. My wife decided to volunteer for a couple days as well since she was scheduled to have some time off in the middle of the week. We had no experience with the camp (my kids were too young and Jon is new to our church), but we figured it would be fun and maybe even a break from the daily routine of caring for own kids. Little did we know....

We showed up at our first camp prep meeting about 6 weeks ago thinking we'd be helping make sure the kids got their snacks, didn't run out of crayons, and otherwise supporting the teachers. We didn't realize that we were the teachers! I was assigned a class of primarily 3-year olds and Jon got the 5-year olds. Doh! The organizers then proceeded to rattle off info about lesson plans, arts and crafts projects, recommended songs, supplies and so on. They kind of lost me at "lesson plans." Huh? What's that?

So much for a relaxing week. Instead of caring for my 2 kids, I now had a class of 10 to deal with!

The lesson plans turned out to be not so bad, thanks in a large part to my wonderful wife (who is perhaps the most organized person in the world... at least as far as event planning goes) and another friend, Kathey, who was assigned to my class (and also had event planning experience). We only had to fill 3 hours each day and the church provided us with a lot of planning material. In fact, after brainstorming on all the activities I thought would be fun to do, I began to wonder why we only did 3 hours. I had to keep cutting out projects and things I really liked because of the limited amount of time. Why not do a full day camp?

As clock struck 12:00pm on Monday, and the first day of camp ended, that question had been answered for me. Wow! It was only noon and I hadn't been so exhausted (mentally and physically) in a long time! I have new found respect for all the preschool teachers out there who do this day in and day out.

It did get easier as the week went on. As the kids (and teachers) all got to know each other and we settled into some semblance of a routine. I actually did have a lot of fun (as did my kids), and by the end of camp Jon and I had decided we would (probably?) volunteer again next year. I'm already thinking about things to do and how to make my class even better next time around.

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