Buckswood Summer School

Posted on June 18, 2011 by

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This summer, I’ll be working at the Buckswood School as an Activity Leader for Georgian students. Buckswood will have about 600 students this summer coming in four waves – each wave lasting three weeks and consisting of about 150 students. Each student at Buckswood won their spot through participating in Georgia’s academic Olympiad program. We expect that the students will range in age from 14 to 18.

Each wave – or “stream,” as Buckswood calls them – will have nine Activity Leaders from the ranks of the TLGVs who are staying in Georgia over the summer. Some people volunteered for all four streams; I signed up for three and four, which run from July 30th until September 10th. That said, I’m now so excited about the program that I’m planning to come up and volunteer to help out for a few days during the first two streams as well.

Buckswood provides four hours a day of lessons on English language and culture and the rest of the day is filled with activities such as sports, music, arts and crafts, treasure hunts, quiz games, and other fun stuff. All of these activities are conducted in English, so the program ends up being an intensive formal and practical course in English for the students. The Activity Leaders are in charge of the students when they’re not in lessons. Each Leader supervises a House of about 16 or 17 kids, usually divided up so that they’re all from different regions and/or schools and so that there’s an approximately even distribution of boys and girls. Each Leader also supervises a dorm room, which involves sharing a dorm room with up to eleven Georgian students and making sure they go to sleep on time, wake up on time, and keep their areas clean. I have to say, of all the Activity Leader tasks, trying to keep a room full of seven Georgian boys clean, orderly, and quiet is the one that I expect to find the most… challenging.

Buckswood prides itself on instilling discipline in the children while also showing them a good time. The staff refers to the campus as “Mini Britain,” and in Mini Britain, students must observe all rules, display table manners, assist with cleaning and other tasks, participate fully in activities, and refrain from smoking, drinking, bullying, lateness, shouting, and many other habits that I personally find distressing. I will be extremely pleased to teach in this sort of environment – as I’ve said before, discipline in Georgian schools can be someone different than what I am used to. I’m also very happy – okay, I’m beyond happy – about the prospect of living in a non-smoking environment for a month and a half.

Our Headmaster and orientation leader was very enthusiastic about the fact that Buckswood changes its students’ lives. He told us many times that in the past, parents have called after their kids came back and thanked the staff for the changes in their children’s behavior. In addition, some number of kids from each summer – something in the range of 60, perhaps – get a scholarship to go to a two-week, all expenses paid program in the UK, which gives them opportunities to meet people from all around the world and speak English in a total immersion environment.

So that’s the skinny on Buckswood, for those who have been wondering. I expect it will be a great experience and I’m glad the Ministry was able to get us positions there. I’ll be writing more about it as I spend more time there.

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Posted in: Summer Camps