July 19, 2014

Today is the 4th day of the new session and everything is going well so far.  There are lots of new faces: counselors and campers alike.  In some ways, I was dreading “starting over” with camp for the 3rd time in a little over a month; the first few days are very busy and tiring, and in my case, the children have to get used to seeing me around camp haha.  But I was surprised at how I felt rejuvenated when I started interacting with the kids in my group and others around camp.  I’m still battling fatigue at times, but their energy is refreshing!

Two of my close friends are the leaders for this session and I am so proud of the work they have been doing.  The three of us were counselors together for a group in 2011 and now they are doing bigger and better things here at Skazka.  This session’s theme is dance so that means lots of performances and practices.  I’m sure it was quite a sight to see me trying to figure out the dance moves for the counselor’s opening dance routine haha.  The dance turned out surprisingly well and I only messed up about 3 times haha.   More importantly, the kids enjoyed seeing me dance onstage and told me afterwards that I’m a great dancer.  I’ll take it, even if it isn’t exactly true.

This time around I will be teaching the first four groups of kids at camp.  Overall, the camp is younger than last time, which is why I am teaching fewer groups: I don’t think the younger kids will understand some of the lessons.  Surveys have been passed out again and I have pretty much figured out the logistics.  I am happy to work with Nikita, a former camper who is now

a helper here at camp.  He is a huge help to me and a super sweet guy.  Together, we have done the first two lessons for the groups and using some revisions I made to some of the lessons based on classes last session.  The kids have lots of energy, are engaged, and I think enjoying the lessons so far.  I’m excited to work with these groups and see how things go in future classes!

Here are some recent thoughts I had about Russian culture based on what I have seen around camp:

  • Russians, like I have mentioned before, are warm and affectionate people.  This time around, I have noticed more how often they hug, hold hands, and kiss (on the cheek) their friends.  Since I come from an affectionate family, I’m cool with the hugs and all the love; my friends know I’m a big hugger haha.
  • I have noticed that Russians are typically always willing to share, help, and work as a team on different activities.
  • Fairy tales are a big part of Russian culture and every day I hear at least one reference to a Russian fairy tale.  In fact, Lesnaya Skazka means “forest fairy tale”.  It crossed my mind the other day that, in some ways, I could easily be a character from a fairy tale for the children here at camp.  With my dark skin, long braids, big eyes, and the fact that I speak a foreign language, I might have jumped straight from one of the pages of their stories haha.

Finally, to close, some highlights of this session so far:

  • I have three new roommates, one of which is a 2 and a half year old girl.  She is cute as a button and super sweet.  We were instant friends and she always asks her mom to tell me to come with them wherever they go.  Plus, she gives great hugs whenever she sees me!
  • Receiving a flood of messages and friend requests on the Russian version of Facebook from people from the 2nd session.  A few of the messages have been from kids and counselors who say they miss my classes and appreciate what I taught them.
  • Seeing people wearing the bracelets and necklaces I gave them with the name of my class (We All Smile) around camp.  I must say they look really good!
  • Having, yet again, children run up to me to rub my skin to see if the color rubs off haha
  • Doing word search puzzles with the kids.  Every time I pull out the puzzles to work on when I have free time, I am instantly surrounded by a group of kids who want to help me find the words.  It’s a lot of fun to do it together and they can practice their English at the same time.
  • Celebrating a close friend’s birthday and being here for his mini birthday party with other counselors.
  • Receiving super creative and cool “just because” gifts from friends.
  • Seeing the 7 year old daughter of a camp craft teacher proudly displaying her new black Barbie doll around camp because she said it was me haha.  Her mom explained that she had the choice between 3 Barbie dolls, but she instantly chose the black Barbie and started saying “Look mama, it’s Shauna!”  The doll has long, dark hair and big earrings so I understand why she thought it looked like me haha.  Who knew they had black dolls in Russia?

That’s all for now!  Time to go find my group and get ready for disco tonight!

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