Inside our TECS Development Weekend 2017

The weekend of the 18th and 19th of November, a group of year round and summer camp staff got together, to plan for how we are going to make Summer 2018 the best summer ever! We spent the weekend in Huerta Dorotea, the location where during the summer we run MV/LV. After arriving at 10.30, and having a second breakfast in the morning sun on the terrace :), we got down to work.

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After an introduction of the success areas of 2017, and looking forward to the changes of 2018 (blog post on these coming soon 😉 ), we had a development session with Doug. After lots of discussion about the 5 most important management skills and how they related to our professional experiences, we headed off for lunch.

After some tasty food, we began the competition of the weekend. In two teams, we were given various challenges, all with the aim of making summer camp better in some way or another. Our first challenge was to come up with a new evening entertainment… definitely a challenge, it was quite the difficult one. The winning idea was for The Crystal Maze, which involved campers winning ‘crystal’ balls, which represent the time they have in a room filled with colour war points – the more balls they win, the more time they have to collect points for their team!

Our second challenge saw us coming up with ideas for something new in either Staff or Management Training Week. The idea was not to come up with a new session, but to come up with something that would add to the feel of training week. Our ideas involved creating camper case studies that we introduce to staff, to help them understand the information they are being told and how it relates to campers, and the other centered on coming up with vision statements for each camp, and introducing these to both staff and management. Stay tuned and see if you can see them pop up in the training weeks of 2018 😉

Our final session was the most challenging – we had to envision what the English camp of the future looks like. The concepts we came up with ranged from classes ran in English but about different subjects -drama, music, perhaps even featuring other language classes!, to 21st century classes – teaching students through English about 21st century problems they are not taught about in school.

After a long day of work, we were happy to relax at dinner time, once again enjoying a delightful meal, before doing a quiz which mixed both traditional and non traditional rounds. From general knowledge and music, to singing handstands upside down and charades, we had a great evening.

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The next day saw us walk the Via Verde from an old train station in Coripe. The kids from MV/LV come here to do a midweek cycle, and it really is a gorgeous spot in the middle of the Andalusian countryside. With some picnics and a glass of beer to finish off the walk, we left feeling like we had just had a weekend well spent!

Thanks to all who came, and the work they did! (and to Stephen McCartney for these great photos 🙂 )

TECS Development Weekend in Wales!

Trip to Wales for 'Summer' Camp

So each year we have a weekend event called the Development Weekend (previously known as the Review Weekend) where we invite of the managers or key staff from the previous summer to one of our camp venues. The purpose of the weekend is twofold:

  1. To review what still needs to be improved on our summer camps and develop solutions for the following summer.
  2. To give something back to the people that we invite by further investing in them and helping them further along the path of personal and professional development.

This year we decided to go a little further afield than usual and go to the site of our new camp in Wales in Ael y Bryn (the name of the house) in Mumbles. Our journey started at the lovely time of 5 am on Friday where we all bunged into the van and headed to Malaga to catch a flight  to Bristol, and from there we travelled to the venue.

Now apart from it being a little rainier and wetter than what we’re used to here in the sunny south of Spain I really enjoyed Wales! It was beautiful and green, and the house is just amazing! It’s nothing like our camps in that it is a house but massive and really modern and kitted out with everything you could possibly need!

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One of the 10 steps to being a better camp manager

After travelling for around 9 hours we sat down to a beautiful spread of delicious cold meats and salads prepared for by David (with the help of the neighbours). After that then it was time to get down to work. I gave an introduction to our plans for 2017, and then Doug gave an excellent development session entitled “10 Steps to Success: to becoming a great camp manager.”. Now for those of you who have seen similar sessions you will pleased (and maybe jealous) to hear that he has spiced it up a bit and added some new ones! Just a step closer to having a TED talk done by Dougie….

The rest of the weekend was based around a “The Apprentice”-style competition called TECS Apprentice (original I know!) which was judged by Douglas Trump and Lord Patrick Sugar. Everyone was divided into two teams and had to come up with solutions to the following tasks

1. 10 values staff should always aim to follow

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Working hard or hardly working?

We wanted to develop 10 value phrases or principals that we could introduce at the beginning of staff training week which, by following, would guide our staff to be the best summer camp staff they could be. The teams each came up with 10 each and we have now come up with the defintive 10:

  • I am the one who will determine how great I can be.
  • I will always put the needs and wants of my campers over my own.
  • I am the example of how I want campers and staff to be.
  • I can and must always use my power to positively influence any person or situation.
  • I focus on solutions and goals, not on problems and issues.
  • I see and go beyond excuses – mine or others – and focus on succeeding
  • I’m not afraid to seek out help and am ready to support others
  • I value difficult situations as an opportunity to develop myself personally and professionally
  • I value the team: Together we achieve more than I can alone.
  • My actions and attitudes are key to how successful camp is.

 

2. Wales Camp Programme

The teams each had to come up with:

  • 5 activities that can be done during class, or tie in with class, but that are done outside of the classroom in the surround area/town which will make students to not only learn English, but learn English in an authentic way in the U.K.
  • 3 things that can be done (activity/project/evening ent/etc.) in the house that will mean the students are taking advantage of the facilities and will love the house.

 

3. Structure for English Class-prepared presentations for Family Camp Puerto Departures Show

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A bit wetter than we’re used to…

We are planning to have the departures show in Family Camp Puerto to be done quite differently to that of the villages in that instead of presenting their creative projects, students will be presenting their English learning. They will have a part of class each day to prepare for this presentation, and the teams had to come up with what this presentation would be and how teachers would get students ready.

 

Apart from the working aspect of the weekend we also had, like we always do in TECS, had the social side where we had lots of lovely meals, enjoyed a beer or two in the local pub, went for a walk to the beach, went for a drive around the Mumbles area, and had a quiz prepared by our very own Joe Martin.

Great weekend all round, and definitely a great start of to summer 2017: The Best Summer Ever!!!!

Testimonial: Claire Wenman

Before coming to TECS in 2015, I had never worked in a summer camp and I was a little scared about the prospect of working with a group of people who I had never met before. However it was one of the best experiences of my life. The people that you work with come from all over and bring lots of different qualities which help to make the experience even better. I can honestly say I have made some extremely good friends from my experience last year and I have some great memories with them.

I worked as a TEFL teacher last summer and it was a great opportunity to test my skills as a teacher because it is a totally different experience from that of a normal teacher working in an EFL academy or a school. In my case, my classroom was outdoors to start with so you have to adapt to that situation but along with the other teachers you work as part of a team and create the best lessons possible. This experience has helped me in my normal teaching job as I have become more creative with the material I am teaching and a lot more adaptable.

You may think that working all the time with kids company will get boring and annoying but you will not stop laughing with them and the other teachers and monitors. Although the days are long, they are thoroughly enjoyable because you can allow your childish side to come out and have a laugh with the kids. You think that you are just there to teach them but actually by the end you don’t want them to leave because they have made you enjoy your experience just as much as you help them to enjoy theirs.

Applying to work at TECS last summer was an excellent decision because I have made some excellent friends, some amazing memories and developed as a person and professionally. I would 100% recommend it!

– Claire Wenman

Testimonial: Ross O’Brien

Where do I even begin?! I spent three of possibly the best summers of my life working in TECS summer camps! What makes camp amazing is the camaraderie you build with the other staff and thanks to my three summers in TECS I can genuinely say that I’ve made friends for life and will always have a couch to crash on in Spain!

But it’s not really about you – it’s about the campers! TECS provided me with my first proper work experience as a teacher. After an intense training week, I went into class feeling sufficiently nervous yet confident and the weekly observations act as a support to help towards making your classes even better. I can honestly say that I learned how to teach in TECS!

Returning to TECS year after year also enabled me to climb the ladder there. In my second summer I was involved with the online blog and in my third year I took a step into management and worked as a TEFL coordinator as well as a TECS College tutor. This involved training new teachers by observing their classes and giving them feedback as well as overseeing the running of the English programme on-site. Therefore TECS allowed and encouraged me to grow both personally and professionally. What more could you ask for from an employer?!

Camp life can be a rollercoaster of emotions – but rollercoasters are FUN so what are you waiting for? Apply to work in sunny Spain for a summer now! I promise…you’ll NEVER regret it!

– Ross O’Brien

Testimonial: Brendan Costello

Having finished University in May of 2012 I decided that I wanted to take a year out and go on an adventure. That adventure started with my application to work as a TEFL teacher in TECS summer camps. As it happened the adventure turned into my career and I returned to TECS the following summer to work in the same position. In 2014 I was the TEFL coordinator in Magic Village and in summer of 2015 took on the role of Director there too. So why have I come back to TECS every summer?

Every position has offered something completely different. As a teacher, your main focus is on the campers and the English programme. You have the opportunity to be very involved with camp life from the camper’s perspective and that is a fantastic way to spend the summer. As a coordinator, you become more involved with the staff and ensuring your side of the programme is running as it should be, the great thing about this position is that you still have one foot on the ground with the campers and one foot behind the scenes. Finally, as a Director you are very much involved with the smooth running of everything on camp. This can be a daunting task. Every day is different and you can be sure that no matter what you´ll have some sort of challenge come your way on a daily basis. In saying that, it is also an incredibly rewarding job to know that, at the end of the summer, you played such a vital role in making it the best summer ever for a few hundred campers.

I still remember everything about my first summer at TECS as a TEFL teacher in Family camp Puerto. Initially, there was the application and before I knew it I was arriving at the train station in El Puerto de Santa María, in beach town in the sunny south of Spain. The first few days can be full on and as a first time staff member you will invariably see all the returnee staff who seem to know exactly what to do and where to go, but then you´ll be back at the train station at the end of camp, probably crying, as you say goodbye to everyone and know that you have become a full-fledged member of a very special club.

Professionally, I have grown so much at TECS and have been given amazing opportunities in terms of career progression. Coming back to camp year after year has made me want to grow and develop and a job in TECS is the perfect place to do that if you have the motivation and the passion for it.

On a more personal note, TECS has changed me for the better. It has allowed me to be more open and understanding as well as given me the chance to meet and work with people from all over the world. Thanks to TECS I have become a more confident, focused and driven person.

– Brendan Costello

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

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: Patrick Alvarez

I first started working for TECS Summer Camps in 2008 as an assistant monitor. I first came out just to have a bit of fun in the sunny south of Spain with a whole pile of other like-minded young staff.

Well, boy did I get more than I’d ever imagined! Not only did I have the best summer ever in a camp in the beautiful south of Spain with 200 other great young staff, but I had the experience of a lifetime. That summer TECS gave me a job, a whole new experience, and an amazing new group of friends.

After the summer I was hooked and have worked every summer since 2008 in a variety of different jobs and now I worked all year round for the most dynamic and passionate company I’ve had the pleasure to know. TECS Summer Camps has changed my profession, it has changed my life, and it has made me a better human. I owe everything to TECS Summer Camps and the magical experience they have given me every summer.

– Patrick Alvarez (2008 onwards)

Testimonial: Christina Jones

“One of my proudest achievements has been the work I have done while working with TECS, an English summer camp for children and teenagers. I have worked with TECS over the past 5 summers, in various roles, and have thoroughly enjoyed preparing and giving training sessions to other TEFL teachers, creating an objective-based communication programme, as well as managing camp staff and overseeing the overall quality of the learning: both the learning of the English language as well as the learning of “life skills”. My passion for this job is so strong that I usually spend eleven unpaid months preparing for a summer camp job that only lasts one.”

– Christina Jones