Summary of Gift of Reading camp December 2009

December 28, 2009

For the benefit of those who have forgotten what we went through for the camp this year, as well as those who could not make it but would love to find out what we did, I decided to do a summary of what happened in the camp this year.

Highlights of day 1

  • A total of 24 volunteers arrived at the beginning of the camp. With many getting lost finding the Pyramid Club (that includes Aini, hee hee).
  • Had ice-breakers to get everyone started. In whacko, everyone ended up targetting Chee Yang (thats me, haha) and the game was probably only fun for Chee Yang's enemies (hope that isn't everybody). Other games like elope and double whacko were also played, and I supposed the volunteers also had fun targetting other people this time.
  • Camp organizers (thats Yao Nian, Aini and Chee Yang) and Kish declared the camp officially open and also briefed the volunteers about the camp programme. Kish also laid down some ground rules for the camp.
  • Went to Singapore Arts Museum to view the exhibits there. Many volunteers were inspired by them and they definitely made an impact on their perceptions to the world around them.
  • Had an amazing amazing race segment (yes, thats two "amazings") at City Hall area to get to volunteers to think and work together to solve the problems they were faced with. Volunteers were shown the importance of communication and teamwork and were challenged to step out of their comfort zones as well as to think out of the box. Of course, the usual cheating aside, the volunteers sure had a tough but fun time.
  • Came back to have our BBQ. We were joined by many other volunteers then. Special thanks goes to the chefs Vijay, Clement and Wei Jun (who cooked all the way) as well as the many others who helped out. We were also visited by Mr Chia Boon Tai and his family, who started the gift of reading programme along with Mr Tharman and some others (oops, my gift history seems rusty here. Mr Chia shared about many ways and approaches we could take on to improve gift of reading and how thinking big can bring our programme a long way.
  • Had the activity Secret Code which was conducted by Kish. During the activity, volunteers were tasked to come out with a secret code amongst their groups to communicate a secret number down the line from the first person to the last person. In this activity, volunteers were shown the importance of having a common communication system which everyone would be comfortable with. It was definitely very hilarious seeing everyone coming out with their funny methods of communications, which included head shaking (I felt like I was in India for a while), tongue sticking and eye blinking. The takeaway from this activity was definitely numerous as many people bombarded the board with post-its of their takeaways.
  • Played Polar Bear with Pei Woon being the storyteller and introducing lots of new characters to the game, making it even more interesting.

Highlights of day 2

  • Started the day with a second activity conducted by Kish, which was called Big Picture, Small Roles. In this activity, an A4 size picture was cut into 6 pieces and each volunteer were tasked to enlarge each of those 6 pieces into A4 size pictures, before being asked again to join them up. I bet many people were left laughing at the joined pictures after that, where the fit did not seem perfect and some people decided to improvise and "enhance" their pictures.
  • Had training on big book reading techniques from our very own lovely seniors Pei Lin and Alfred. We explored use of puppetry, props and melody in big book reading sessions. The skills taught were very useful and I am sure all the volunteers will be looking forward to applying them in gift sessions next year. :D
  • Had a second training session by Mdm Phua, who has trained our volunteers for many times already. Mdm Phua showed us the importance of expression, tone and volume control during her training, when she demostrated her big book reading skills in a dramatic and animated way which was well received by all volunteers. Mdm Phua also explored incorporating reader's theatre, hot seating and musicals into big book reading sessions. This was a new approach for our big book sessions and it would definitely be very interesting seeing volunteers try them out during gift sessions next year!! :D
  • Had our first pool session for the camp after a lovely and delicious buffet dinner. Many people (excluding some, who prefer to be nice and dry), jumped into the pool like hooligans and got their selfs really really wet. Was really glad no one lost their spectacles or other equipment in the pool.
  • Had a reflections session which went on till late at night. While everyone was really tired (yes I know, I saw some of you fall asleep already), it was really meaningful trying our best to listen to each other's comments about the programme and how they have changed after joining the programme. Hope we all can make gift even more successful next year too!! So we can change even more for the better!

Highlights of day 3

  • Had a third activity conducted by Kish called Doodle Masters. Volunteers were supposed to come out with pictures from random doodles (lines drawn randomly). After that, the volunteers had to pick a moral and were tasked to come out with a story to bring out this moral. The volunteers were all entertained by the dramatised stories thought out by fellow volunteers and I am sure everyone had a great time laughing their heads off. Would like to see people like Yao Nian (and his pokemon character) and Ding Feng (and his mario character) show their cute drama skills to the children for sessions too!!
  • After lunch, all the volunteers put on their thinking caps and starting putting their heads together to decide the themes, timings and locations of gift of reading sessions. Yao Nian conducted the discussion in UN style which made discussions more interesting and productive. :)
  • Volunteers then broke into their respective groups to discuss lesson plans for each themes we decided on for the first term next year. We decided to have four themes for term 1 next year and they are Myths and Fairytales, Dinosaurs, Sports and Music. The respective groups then presented their lesson plans to their fellow volunteers so they could receive comments and suggestions from each other. It was definitely a productive session as everyone all put their mind and soul into fine-tuning our lesson plans to make it as good as possible. So great job everyone!! :)
  • After the lesson plans were more or less finalized, we finally ended off by writing cards with words of encouragements to each other. It was very heartening seeing some people write sincere and encouraging praises. Well, hope we can all continue to be even more bonded as a group and do wonders next year! :D

Yup, so thats a summary of what we did for this year (took me two nights to draft them :O). Hope I have not been too longwinded. People with the blog password can log in and shorten this post if you want. Have fun!! :)

Chee Yang

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