We are officially over halfway done with the Puchov camp and can't believe it's going by so quickly! We have 69 students in camp along with a wonderful group of interpreters, hosts, and helpers.
On Sunday we worshipped at the Puchov Lutheran Church along with the teen camp team members. We introduced ourselves, sang a couple of songs, and generally tried to follow along with the service as much as we could. For anyone who thinks there's a lot of standing up and sitting down in American Lutheran services, you should try a Slovak Lutheran service--it's a great workout :) After the service, we were treated to a barbecue in the church yard prepared by members of the congregation for us. Then, the children's camp team and the teen camp team parted ways: us to get ice cream ("zmrzlina") and set up classrooms to prepare for camp, and them to meet their batch of teens who arrived that afternoon. On Sunday evening, we had our team dinner out at a restaurant and enjoyed the chance to relax a little before the start of camp.
We have 8 classes in the Puchov camp, each with 7-11 students. The kids at this camp tend to be slightly younger, which makes communicating even more difficult when their English is so limited at that age. However, you would be amazed at how far a handful of English words, a handful of Slovak words, some gestures, and a lot of friendly facial expressions will get you! Our interpreters range in age from mid teens to mid 20s, and many have been part of the camps since they were participants themselves.
We had a "free" night on Monday evening--quotation marks because a free night actually means a chance to catch up on laundry, lesson planning, or (if you can squeeze it in) sleep. Most of the team used Tuesday afternoon to buy a few school supplies and groceries before our team dinner. Yesterday evening (Wednesday) we went out for bowling and pizza with the interpreters for the camp. Although something like bowling and pizza seems like it's just for fun, it's also a good opportunity to have more in-depth conversations with our interpreters. The camp days go by so quickly and everyone is running at full speed, so there's rarely a chance to slow down and really talk to anyone. Post-camp activities like this are important to help us build relationships and encourage one another not only in this week but throughout the rest of the year (through the magic of online communication) as well. The beauty of these English Bible Camps is that working with the kids is our primary purpose in coming here, but a byproduct is that we can encourage and lift up brothers and sisters in Christ who feel alone or discouraged here.
PHOTOS COMING NEXT POST!
PHIL SCHMIDT & ERIKA MECHSNER are siblings from California. When they aren't leading short-term trips to Slovakia or organizing children and youth events at their church, Calvary Lutheran, Phil is a high school English teacher and Erika is a university lecturer in composition.