Ellen Carney here, reporting in live from Nakhon Pathom, Thailand! For the next 6 months to 1 year I will be teaching english to freshman and sophomore age Thai high school students. I have been living in Thailand almost a month and I am already falling in love with this country! From beaches to Boy Scout camps I have incredible experiences every where I go! In large part, I have my experiences back home at Camp Ockanickon to thank for this! For those of you in the camp community who do not know me, I have been working at camp for more than 5 years in various positions. Most recently this summer I was a Ranger Lead Instructor at Camp Matollionequay. Prior to working at camp I attended Matolly each year as a camper starting at just 8 years old.
I already miss camp dearly but I am so excited to be able to bring the morals and values of camp to my new school in Thailand. I have already adapted many camp games to fit my teaching programs and thanks to camp I am not embarrassed to sing Taylor Swift in front of a class of 15 year olds to practice listening. Being a camp counselor for all of those years has prepared me to become an exceptional teacher who can relate to the students in a unique way.
The skills and experiences camp has given me is helping me both in and out of the classroom. For many of my friends and colleagues here homesickness has been quite a shock to the system. Many people have never been away from home for more than a few weeks at a time and even those who have, have certainly never been away from technology for that long. Now, I cannot claim to be above the homesickness and culture shock, but camp has given me the tools to manage and work through my feelings of instability. I have talked many a homesick camper through a rough patch at camp and listened while my international friends confessed their own longing for their parents. No matter what your age, change is difficult and it is natural to seek comfort in the familiar. However, growth occurs when we step outside of our comfort zone and leave every day amenities and technologies behind. This inevitably will lead to maturity, growth and a deepened connection to the people around you. I firmly believe that while camp is meant to be fun it also provides us every day with lessons on how to become the best versions of ourselves. Whether camp is in your back yard or several states away leaving your comfort zone and experiencing something new will give you the tools to make even bigger life changes in the future. If you ever desire to go to school away from home, study abroad, or volunteer in a foreign country, going to camp is the place to start! Who knows, maybe one day you will even find yourself spontaneously moving to Thailand to teach english!