i heard it at summer camp


ahhhh, summer camp. the obligatory summer job that helps keep the lights on around here in those slower months when people aren’t exactly jumping at the idea of having lessons, but it also brings us great joy… when summer camp is administered in small doses, of course. we almost missed out on summer camp this year entirely because of our back to america travel plans but managed to teach one week of it right after we came back from greece.

one thing i love about it, besides tasting all of the czech meals at lunch time, is it’s not so much just teaching as it is hanging out with kids. for us american teachers, it’s a unique time where we can observe cultural differences and even learn from these kids (and hopefully, vice versa?). of course, hanging out with children for ten hours a day, five days a week yields its share of funny or insightful stories, and in only one week of camp, this year was no different.

she is a toilet (from alex)
one of my favorite students told me her grandma and grandpa were toilets, that her parents are toilets, her brother is a toilet, and finally that her cousin standing next to her is also a toilet. later that day she asked me, “alex, what is ‘american horror story’?”

she doesn’t know how old she is!
during the english lesson portion of the day, i ask an older girl how old she is. she thinks for about four long seconds about how to say it, and then a perfectly bilingual (and consequently, insensitive) 7 year old sputters (in english), unable to hold back his glee any longer, “pffffhhht!!! she doesn’t know how old she is!!”

air raid siren wednesday
i was just finishing up a lesson before lunchtime with a group of second graders, who were all busy finishing their coloring project before it was time to go. then, at the stroke of noon, an unignorable air-raid-like siren wail began, tearing through the sound waves of the classroom. for me to hear a siren like this in the middle of the day sends chills down my spine. i looked around the class, looking to meet the eyes of one of the students for some insight into how i should be feeling or thinking about this. they all said something in czech, looked at each other, shrugged, and went back to coloring.

of course, then i realized it was the first wednesday of the month at noon. air-raid sirens sound, followed by a short message in czech, assuring us that this is not a real threat. i think those of us who have never lived in the country during the time of the iron curtain will never really know or understand, but it is quite unsettling.

sobo paradise
on one of the very hot days of the week, we went on a field trip to římov, a small village 14km south of budějovice to play some games and swim in the river there.


(and many small riverside areas in south bohemia), turns out, are true czech summertime paradises. all of the children strip down and change into their swimsuit right then and there at the riverside (of course, the shier ones go behind a bush). other families are there with small children, women topless, even breastfeeding topless. toddlers and children splashing around the riverbank in the nude… of course, nobody is batting an eye at any of this. everyone is respectfully enjoying their swim time as they please and seemed to be feeling free of judgement. along with the sound of laughter and the smiles, it was such a happy summer scene.

i love america!
kate, a third grader, has taken to telling me how much she likes america. "i love america. i very very very love america.” very much, i correct her. but i smile. it isn’t every day that someone is professing their undying love to your home country. later she was spotted drinking a coca-cola. very committed.


‘til next year, summer camp! have you ever worked at a summer camp?

related posts from past years: thoughts after teaching our first year of summer camp in 2013 & day in the life 2014, which follows me through a typical day at summer camp

unrelated cool thing: i’ve just been featured on the lovely edna’s blog for her i love my neighborhood series, talking about the centrum of

budějovice. check it!