Published 1st March 2017
By Ellie Cousins
Recently I participated in the 19th January 2017 – 9th February 2017 intake for Camp Thailand. To begin with, I was definitely nervous about going, not being sure what to expect from the whole experience and with it being my first time away from home alone, I was very dubious.
Thankfully, Camp Thailand turned out to be the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. With Camp, I did things that I would otherwise never have the opportunity to do and met people who I never would have met before but are now some of my closest friends; choosing Camp Thailand for my gap year was definitely the best decision I’ve made.
Upon arriving in Bangkok International Airport, we were met by the Camp Thailand representatives who introduced themselves and took us to the hotel. That night, we all went out on a ‘welcome’ meal, which gave us time to get to know each other a little better before the trip really started. Even on the first night, Camp Thailand was pushing me to do things that I otherwise never would have done, including eating fried bugs; these were served as a delicacy at the restaurant that we went to.
The next night, we all met up again and went to a rooftop bar for dinner. At this point we were completely relaxed in each others company and the conversation and drink flowed freely. After dinner we went out for drinks on the infamous Khao San Road, which was definitely an experience!
Whilst at camp we were lucky enough to try Mui Thai Boxing, a sport inspired by the Siamese Fighting Fish; we travelled to Buriram, where we were taught by the professionals in Buriram Stadium.
I really enjoyed Mui Thai Boxing; even though I wasn’t very good at it, I would jump at the opportunity to do it again and show off my new boxing skills!
My favourite part of the whole trip by far was the teaching which we were able to do. To begin with, we taught younger, primary students, but towards the end of the trip we began teaching high school students.
The teaching was so rewarding – being able to actually see the look of accomplishment on a child’s face when they finally understand something that we have been teaching them, and knowing that you are partly why that look is there, is honestly one of the best feelings in the world. The students were so lovely and thankful, and they all seemed willing to put 100% into their lessons. As someone who was genuinely worried about not being able to do the teaching, I am so glad that it didn’t put me off the trip as it really was the best part.
Our first day of teaching consisted of teaching primary children the animals. They already seemed to know the majority of the animals we were teaching them, only getting a couple muddled up (which made Animal Bingo much easier!)
Our next couple of days of teaching were teaching high school students. We had a morning full of songs and games, and the afternoon left us to our own lessons, where my group were teaching directions and household objects. The students seemed to really enjoy our lesson plan, which was a wonderful feeling and they all seemed to understand what we were teaching them by the end of it.
On one of the days of our trip we were taken to the Elephant Village for an overnight stay. We were able to feed the elephants watermelon for breakfast in the morning and then walked them to the lake to give them a bath.
Being able to walk the elephants was absolutely amazing; one even took a liking to me which Beth and I nicknamed Tim! After the elephants were washed and cleaned, we had a small picnic near the lake and were joined by the elephants, who were at the perfect height for cuddles!
Whilst at camp I went on the extended tour to Cambodia, something I am genuinely glad I did. Whilst in Cambodia, we were lucky enough to visit three different temples, including Angkor Wat which is definitely worth the climb up the stairs.
As well as our visit to Angkor Wat, we were also able to watch the sunrise which was honestly breathtaking, despite the cloudy weather! We were also able to experience Pub Street which was brilliant, even if it did result in a few sore heads the next morning.
The staff at camp are honestly wonderful; I have never met people who genuinely care so much before. Mike and Katie specifically, who were my reps whilst I was at camp, always went above and beyond to help out the intakes and the Thai staff did everything that they could to make us feel welcome.
In summary, Camp Thailand was one of the most rewarding brilliant and memorable things I’ve ever done. It gave me the ability to do things I would never try before, and I have made some lifelong friends on this trip. I now can’t imagine what I would have done if I didn’t do Camp Thailand and I’m so glad I chose it for my gap year. I am so honoured that I was able to take part in it, and that I was able to be a part of my intake who were honestly the best of people.
All in all Camp Thailand was amazing, and I would recommend it to anyone!