TESTIMONIAL: Danielle Hopkins

In 2007, I found myself in Family Camp Puerto tired and disorientated among a swarm of blue and white T-shirts. I wasn’t even sure I was actually going to turn up that day until something which to this day I can’t explain jolted me out of my hammock on a sunny rooftop in Cadiz. A voice in my head said “you really need to go and do this” job. And so I made the short train journey across the bay to start my adventure.

Half way through staff training week, I was wondering why I listened to that stupid little voice inside my head. Oh how very tired and overwhelmed I was.  This was my first real TEFL teaching job you see, I just kept thinking that these all singing, all dancing people around me were nuts. Guess what? They were and they still are. It’s just that now I’m one of them.

Summer camp is the craziest most intense experience that most people will go through in their entire life. For staff and campers.  It’s a rollercoaster ride that takes you through the most emotional highs and lows imaginable. You simply can’t avoid learning so much about yourself. Who you are and what you are capable of. That goes for the kids too.

For me, summer camp taught me primarily about compassion. No matter how tired or busy I was, I would never hesitate in helping a camper or another staff member. Putting someone else’s needs above your own comes naturally on camp after a while.  When you are surrounded by other staff members who do the same it turns into something magical.  TECS taught me that I could do anything I put my mind to. The impossible, the ridiculous, the unthinkable. I did them all, and over the summers I excelled as a person in every possible way.

As I moved through the ranks on summer camp, each year I learned more about myself and other people. Each year I felt more grateful for my experiences and the trust that was given to me to do a good job in these positions.  It felt good to impart experience and knowledge that I had gathered over the summers and watch more green members of staff grow and flourish as I had.

My final year as a camp director was the cherry on my TECS cake.  On camp I made friends for life and found a confidence in myself that allows me to be the person I am today.  If you get the chance to work on summer camp, open your mind and your heart and get ready for the ride.

 – Danielle Hopkins

Testimonial: Maria Lazaro Rodriguez

I don’t even know how to start, since 2006 Tecs Summer Camps have been taking up part of my life, my summers and every single year has been better and better!! My first year on a Tecs Summer Camp was when I was 10 years old, I was a happy sophomore in Family Camp Puerto!! Then Junior, senior, Little Village… And finally Crew Member!! That was my favourite summer without a doubt…

And that was when a new experience in Tecs started, from a different point of view. At that moment I wasn’t there for just having fun, I was there to work for the kids, to make those two weeks the best part of their summers, like my monitors did for me.

The following year I worked as an Assistant monitor, a new amazing experience, more independent. Working hard, the only reason for that, was to see the kids smiling, enjoying, happy, that moment was when I saw reflected myself on them  few years before.

And last year I worked as Day Camp and Logistics Coordinator, everything was different, because I didn’t work with kids directly, I was “behind the scene” organizing my area.

My favourite moment? When a camper comes to you, gives you a huge hug, and tells you: I’m going to miss you, thank you for everything. That moment is when I know that one more summer at Tecs has been successful, and when I know that I want to come one more summer.

Tecs Summer Camps has made me an independent, mature, hard-working and happy girl. And now I can say that I’m proud, not just of the gratification, also of my friends, the members of the team that I can say that they are like my siblings.

Thank you Tecs  for every single fantastic summer.

– Maria Lazaro Rodriguez

We’re all working together towards the same thing

One of the things that can be difficult in any working environment is that it seems like everyone is out for something different. Take your typical office for example:

  • You’ve got a receptionist who aims to give off a good company image to clients so that they are more likely to buy whatever the company is selling
  • You’ve got the intern just trying to work hard and keep their bosses happy so they can get a good reference and go onto bigger and better things.
  • You’ve got the salesmen who are just out to sell the product
  • You’ve got the manager who wants his staff to work harder and more efficiently to get result (usually meaning sell more)
  • and finally you’ve got the boss/owner who might really believe in the product and wants to get out to the world so that it can enrich the lives of others (or maybe he just wants to make money, depends on the person i guess)

In summer camp it’s so much easier!! On summer camp each and every person has the same objective: to give each and every child the best possible experience (learn English, make friends, have lots of fun, develop new skills, be happy and healthy, etc.).

It doesn’t matter if you are a monitor, a TEFL teacher, a welfare coordinator, a driver, or a camp director. Everyone on camp works towards the same goal all of the time. We all want the same thing, we all want to give the kids the best experience possible, we all want them to be happy, we all want them to learn English, we all want them to have fun. And we all play a role in achieving it.

Obviously some people have a more direct affect on it like the monitors and teachers, but we believe that everyone on summer camp not only has an effect on those how great the experience is for those kids, but that everyone has the same goal in mind. No wonder it’s such a great place to work!

Summer camp creates a really unique environment where people are actually less selfish. All of the staff who work on camp always put the needs of the kids over their own. All of our managers put the needs of the kids above their own, and they put the needs of their staff above their own too. All of us work long hours, in the Spanish heat, not exactly getting mega bucks, but we all do it together. We all do it together to do something so morally and ethically great; to ensure that a kid has the best experience possible with the hope that not only did they have fun, but that we taught them something that will allow them develop into better people.

So is it worth it? You bet it is.

 

 

 

 

 

Testimonial: Grace Fennelly

I first heard about TECS summer camps from a friend who convinced me that I would love it- she wasn’t wrong. I decided it would be cool to do something different with my summer and as I have always enjoyed working with children, the addition of the sunny south of Spain proved idyllic to say the least.

From the very first day of training week we had formed a family, I know- very cliché, but none the less true. The people I worked with last summer on camp were amazing with passions and values similar to my own which made the late nights and early mornings all the more doable. I really loved how nobody took themselves too seriously and as a result we were never short of laughter. I couldn’t have imagined how close I would become to a group of children and colleagues in just two and/or four weeks. I managed to form bonds with children that are never far from my mind and in these instances I was reassured that working with young people is what I need to continue doing as it’s so rewarding. The camp experience was fulfilling, so much so that I had forgotten that we even got paid! A job I would do for free is the perfect job and working as a TEFL and camp monitor was that for me.

By having the opportunity to both teach as a TEFL monitor as well as work as a monitor I got the best of both worlds. As I am training to be a teacher in Ireland I could appreciate the fun-filled environment TECS aim to create in their classrooms. Learning doesn’t stop once the children leave their morning classes however as the work of a monitor is also to teach English through various activities. For me this was fantastic as I’m a bigger kid than the campers at the best of times! I threw myself whole heartedly into the chants, constant singing and even embraced being thrown into the pool during activity sessions!

I had an amazing summer and because of that I am eager to return and meet new people, make a difference in the lives of the campers and ultimately give them the summer they will never forget. While the tear twinged goodbyes at the end of each camp were bitter sweet, they were however, the reassurance that we had done our job to the best of our ability by giving those campers a memorable fortnight in Little Village! I would recommend a summer with TECS to anyone considering summer camp work, you will learn things about yourself you never knew existed as well as making a difference in the lives of some pretty fabulous children.

– Grace Fennelly

Summer Camp Staff: The weird and the wonderful!

There are so many things I like so many things about working on summer camp (believe me you’re going to hear about them on this blog!)….. The kids, the activities, the smell (yes camp smells different!), the great weather, but one of the things I really love about summer camp is the people! The staff that work on camp just weirdly wonderful and wonderfully weird!

A lot of you might have noticed that I’ve been asking a lot of returnee staff to put up testimonials about their time working on camp, or if they’ve been campers then what being a camper and a staff member is like. Reading some of these amazing words about people like Ben, Flo or Marta had to say about their years on camp and what TECS meant to them was my inspiration for this post. Not because TECS is awesome (It is!)  but because it got me thinking about how many amazing people I’ve met over the past 9 years!

The kind of people who work on a residential summer camp are pretty amazing. They are the kind of people who decide” hey, instead of going on a beach holiday or working in a restaurant this summer I’m going to work 24/7 to care and educate some kids, so that hopefully they have the summer of their lifetimes and it enriches the rest of their life”, they’re the kind of people who think that cross-dressing is a fun way to make kids laugh, they’re the kind of people that put the needs others (the kids) above themselves, they’re the kind of people who don’t shut up about camp, they’re the kind of people who make a music video in their spare time……. They’re just a bit mad (my kind of people)!

I’ve had the privilege of meeting people like Ben, Flo, Marta, Javi, Jenny and so many more thanks to summer camp. Each one of these people are so different, so unique, so interesting, and all a bit nuts (in a good way!), and the thing is that in “real life” I probably would have never gotten the good fortune o meet people like them (Except for Ben maybe, who is apparently my estranged brother).

So to all of the staff over the years that I’ve gotten to know better in a few weeks during the summer and who I probably got to know better than a lot of my friends and family, I thank you for making each summer awesome!

Oh, I didn’t explain why they’re wonderfully weird? Check it out….

Testimonial: Javier Bodega Rodriguez

The first time I came to TECS Summer Camps was in 2011 as a camper and after two years of amazing experiences I decided to work on a TECS camp.

Now I have been working on camp for 3 years, my first year was as a crew member, the second one was as an assistant monitor and last year was as a monitor. Those three summers working for TECS in Family Camp Gredos have been different, special with a lot of new experiences and funny moments.

Working with TECS makes me know so many people and of course develop my personality, because working at summer camp you learn that the teamwork is amazing and at the same time really important, also during these years I had an incredible time with so many different kids and with the incredible family that all the TECS staff are.

I really think that TECS is a perfect opportunity for both kids and staff to enjoy the summer in a way that is not only the usual one and meet new people that could become real good friends.

– Javier Bodega Rodriguez

20 years of loving summer camp by Douglas Haines

To say summer camp has a special part in my heart only begins to do justice to what i feel. 20 continuous years on camp tell you I became an addict.  At first as a monitor/counselor it was about being outside doing sports and bonding with the children. Later as a coordinator it became about creating spectacular activities and evening entertainments, then as a Camp Director it was about the buzz of making it all come together no matter what. However it has been as  Director of Language Camps that my mission in life was revealed.

There is only one feeling that i have encountered that is more inspiring than educating a child to be a better version of them-self and that is motivating other staff to believe wholeheartedly in that mission. The most soul inspiring moments in my life have happened when the people I trained put into action those skills and attitudes and committed to making sure children had a summer of a lifetime. To lead, motivate and develop people in the skills needed to educate children is quite simply a wonderful thing.

Summer Camp offers individuals the chance to develop in ways you just can’t comprehend until you’re on that journey.  The fact all staff share the honorable goal of looking after and educating children offers an unique framework to bond together with a shared “purpose”. With this security of knowing you do something that matters, the opportunity for professional and personal development is limitless. The development i have seen of individual children and of staff during a summer (and over many) is quite simply incredible. As one parent put it: summer camp can and does “mark the life” of those it touches.

So when someone asks me why have i worked 20 years on summer camp? Although my thoughts and emotions are numerous, my logic is clear: “I’m addicted to the feeling of pride and accomplishment i get from playing my part in creating an environment which does really make both children and staff better people”. Staff and children who are validated in their sense of worth, who have hidden talents revealed and nourished. Staff and children who want to be kinder and nicer versions of themselves.

Summer Camp is a place where you can find a purpose, a place where you can become a better person and most inspiring of all it is a place where you can help others to believe more in them-self.

Douglas Haines

Director of TECS Language Camps

Read more on development and leadership in 100 steps to inspirational leadership.

Testimonial: Marta Hernandez

I can not remember my first day at TECS Summer Camps because it was in 2004, it has been 12 years since then! I started as a 7 years-old girl who was going to an English summer camp. That was just the beginning of a great adventure. I spent 8 unforgettable years as a camper.

I didn’t want my experience at TECS to finish there, I wanted to work as a member of the Staff. First as a crew member, then as an assistant monitor and last year as a monitor. These three years working at TECS have taught me that team work is essential to run a summer camp. Every summer I feel as a member of a big family. Not only that, I am still in contact with people who I have worked with over the years, even with the ones who were campers with me!

Campers are the main reason why we work so hard. But I can assure all of you that it is worth it working with them 24/7. I can’t explain you how it feels to make campers happy. I always want to make sure that they have an awesome experience as I did.

TECS has always been a part of my summer, TECS has always been a part of my life.

12 years at TECS and people keep wondering why I go back every summer. It’s not that difficult to understand: Thanks to TECS I’ve had the best summers of my life.

Testimonial: Jennifer Galligan

Although I have only worked two summers on camp with TECS, it is so difficult to summarise what summer camp means to me; a wonderful mixture of new friendships, challenging situations, constant laughter and personal development. To work with TECS is to have your potential recognised and nourished, to have  camp chants and claps forever ingrained in your memory, to realise that all your work is worth it because you made a difference to a child’s summer.

I have never encountered the same levels of excitement and energy that exist on camp anywhere else, and as an Activity Coordinator, the kids enthusiasm motivates you to ensure that all aspects of the activity programme are as fun and entertaining as possible. To both manage camp staff, and organise and plan the daily activities calls for determination, balance and reflection, but it is extremely fulfilling and allows you to unleash and develop new skills.

Before I worked for TECS, I had no idea how passionate I would become about summer camp- now I cannot imagine what my summers would be like without the excitement of the kids arriving, the songs about moose and crocodiles, the jubilance of Intercamp, and finally, the pride twinged with sadness when it is time for the kids to leave.

– Jennifer Galligan

Testimonial: Katrina “Flo” Bunn

I first came to TECS in 2013 as a TEFL teacher and have worked in the TEFL side ever since. I’d worked in a summer camp before but not in sunny Spain, which is a great added bonus of working at a TECS summer camp. I’ve always been lucky enough to work with a fantastic bunch of kids and a great team of staff who I’m still in contact with now – I really have had the best summers ever, which is what brings me back!

Most recently I worked in Magic Village as the TEFL Coordinator. It was a great experience – as well as doing what I enjoy (teach!), I got to train a team of TEFL teachers and help them develop professionally, ensuring that our campers had a great quality language programme learning English while having fun. In fact, I loved working as a TEFL Coordinator so much that I came back to work in the English Academy full-time as a director of studies!

Working at TECS to this level definitely gave me an insight into education management and the skills and experience to step into a career path I never dreamed that I would be able to pursue – I am 100% certain that I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t come to TECS back in my first summer. Who knows where you could be in a few years if you come to work in TECS this summer?

– Katrina “Flo” Bunn