Monday, 22 July 2013

Slovakia - Discovery Camp

Dear all,

Have I ever mentioned that the missionary world is sadly lopsided in favour of the female sex? It’s not as fun as it sounds, trust me.

Discovery Camp is over and we are moving on in the morning (or have already moved, if the internet doesn’t become available before I put this up). I am sorry not to have written more, but it was a long and full week and there was limited internet. In any case, it was better that I focus on the campers and my activities as English teacher than be writing home and neglecting opportunities here.

Camp days run very similarly: 7:45 is devotions for the team; 8:30 is breakfast; 9:30-10:30 is Bible Study; 11:15 to 12:45 is English lesson; 1:00 is lunch; 2:30-4:30 is afternoon activity of various sorts, and then dinner is at 6:00 with evening event at 7:30 followed by relaxed café atmosphere at 9:30.

We played a variety of indoor and outdoor games, had a murder mystery afternoon (for which I was a Scottish gamekeeper dressed in kilt attire), after which I played the bagpipe and had photos taken with most of the campers to whom a bagpipe was a relatively foreign concept. Several of the girls wanted to learn how to play, so I attempted to teach them, but the lung capacity takes months to build up to, so after becoming rather red-faced with puffing, they relinquished their dream of playing such a magnificent instrument, and settled to posing in photos holding it.

On Friday evening I taught two Ceilidh dances and the Slovaks then taught us traditional Slovak folk dances. In the end, I danced from 8:30 to 1:30 in the morning, knowing it was the last night for many of the campers. I believe I’m starting to get the hang of this thing you call dancing. In fact, I rather enjoyed it.

We had an arts evening on Thursday where I read out and had translated a portion from my book, followed by short interview with me (writers, represent), an actress, a singer, and an artist from the camp leader teams. 

I’ve spent a lot of time teaching English one on one and being taught Slovak, with an emphasis on the romantic phrases. I have picked more up than I expected to, surrounded as I am with the language at every side. As I tell people here, if there’s only one part of a language you learn, it’s best to learn how to compliment people. I assure you, it will take you farther than knowing how to count (a skill, incidentally, I have also acquired).

By now (Sunday) the days have all run together. On Wednesday we went up to the High Tatras (pictures forthcoming), the pride and joy of all Slovaks. They are beautiful. After climbing for a couple of hours, taking pictures, enjoying a leisurely packed lunch, we descended and arrived back at the centre in time for dinner.

One afternoon was spent teaching the Slovaks my American accent. I am proud to say they didn’t succumb to its subtleties, but we all laughed very hard at the attempts. They are willing and able students, and eager to please their teacher. I quite like teaching, the more I do it.

This is nearly all I have to say at the moment. I will prepare a longer newsletter at the end of the summer, with updates from the whole season. For now, thanks for reading, and thanks for praying.

Love to all,


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