July 10-16, 2016
The company I work for directs summer camps every year in Singapore. As soon as I heard about these camps my first year I knew I wanted to go. Every time I heard someone talk about Singapore Camp I always heard the same thing, “It is a lot of work, and long days, but it is so much fun!” The work part, eh, but the fun part, sign me up! Once my second year with HESS rolled around I immediately applied and a few months later I received an e-mail informing me that I had been accepted into the Native Speaker Teacher position. I went to training, and packed/prepared as much as I could. Then off to the airport I went.
Day 1: Sunday
The first day I was at the airport bright and early. I was introducing myself to all the students, 20 total. They all seemed pretty anxious about leaving their parents and following this complete stranger through the airport. We managed to get away from the parents and through immigration with no tears. The plane was relaxing and getting through Singapore’s immigration was fine. It took forever, but it was very easy. A lot of people were staring at us or asking the kids questions. It was obvious we were in a group since we were all wearing the same t-shirts.
We all made it to Singapore in one piece. Right away we headed to our hotel and I started giving the students rules and information. We walked to a nearby diner, Big Bird Restaurant. It was pretty tasty, but at that point I noticed how quiet the students were. They seemed kind of apprehensive to get to know the other students in our group. I couldn’t blame them. New country, new food, and new people. It is a lot to take in for a kid. Back at the hotel we did one of our first team meetings and then I talked to the director about the next day. When the children went to sleep, I still had to prepare for the following day. And the long week began!
Day 2: Monday
Up bright and early! It was time to get the students into the routine of getting up early, eating breakfast, and checking bags before we could leave the hotel for our classroom. My lesson that day was all about Singapore, like money, food, facts, etc. It was pretty rough. The students weren’t very responsive and I felt like all of my energy was being drained from their lack of energy. Thankfully, the director was giving me coffee left and right. With the lesson over (thank goodness!) we ate lunch and headed out on our first excursion.
The first thing we did was go on a Duck Tour. You get on a duck boat that can drive around the old colonial buildings in Singapore and then go into the water and boat around the Marina Harbor area. It was alright. It smelled terrible because of the gasoline the duck boat was burning, and the kids were very sleepy. After a certain point I gave up trying to keep them engaged.
We got off of the Duck Boat and took the bus to Palawan Beach. Now, this beach is by no means super clean and beautiful, but it was a relief from the heat. We changed and then had a blast in the water. I got a lot of seaweed thrown on me as, “a present for you”.
We left Palawan and took the Sentosa Express to the Harbor Front. There, we had dinner at the Vivo City Food Republic. I had some delicious Thai Green Curry.
After taking a walk around the area we got back on the bus and went to a supermarket. We were able to buy snacks and other goodies. I was going all out. I was picking up chips and cereal that I couldn’t get in Taiwan. I don’t even eat a lot of cereal! It was just the fact that I could buy it. I was VERY sad when I saw the huge selection of Ben and Jerry’s. It was even sadder that I couldn’t take any of it with me! I sufficed by getting this cake set.
It was cute seeing the kids look at food and look at the price. Some of them would be like “no, no, that is so much money”. With our goods in hand we went back to the hotel, had a meeting, and then wrapped up the evening. I was exhausted, but ready for another day.
Day 3: Tuesday
I was up so early that I woke up with the sun. I think at this point I was drinking three cups of coffee, just with breakfast. But I was awake and ready for another full day!
In class, our lesson was about art and photography. The first thing we did was learn how to paint using the Batik style. It was very neat and relaxing. Some of the kids were really good at painting with Batik and some were just terrible. Ha! Then I got to do a photography lesson with the students. That got pretty silly, but the kids were having fun. Soon it was time to eat lunch and get on the bus.
We did a walking tour around the marina area. We got to see the Helix Bridge, Floating Platform, Singapore Flyer, Art Science Museum, Marina Sands Bay, and Gardens by the Bay. It was hot out, so anytime we were in the air conditioning it was great.
For two hours we got to tour around the Flower Dome and the Cloud Dome. Both were super chill. In the Flower Dome, I picked a place in the dome that smelled the nicest and just sat there by myself for awhile. I figured that was going to be my only “me” time for the rest of the week.
We ate at Sembawang Eating House Restaurant for dinner. The food was good and I had a good group of kids at my table. The kids were starting to warm-up to me, which made my time with them more enjoyable.
After dinner, we headed to the Merlion Park. There we got to spend some time by the Merlion, taking pictures and playing games. Throughout the week the teachers would hand out English cards to the students. We had a great time playing games to see if we could give or take away English cards from the kids.
Another day was finished!
Day 4: Wednesday
The theme for that day was Nature Conservation. My lesson was based off of that theme. It was an alright lesson. Once we were done with lunch we headed to the Singapore Zoo. The Singapore Zoo is quite large, so we had a long discussion before we went there about which animals the kids wanted to see and which exhibits were open. I think the kids did very well at the zoo and they were very happy that they got to shop at the gift shop afterwards.
We were at the zoo for a long time, so once we were done we boarded the bus and then went ate dinner at Rekyo Inn.
Day 5: Thursday
This was my final lesson of the week: Culture. We learned about different aspects of culture in Singapore. We mainly focused on food, my favorite! Near the end of class we did a taste test. Some of the kids were really calm about it and some of them were freaking out. Of course, the teachers got to be last. They were being very silly about it, but I still liked what I ate.
On our excursion that day we went to Arab Street. It had a mosque, Islamic center, plenty of Arabian food shops, and a lot of souvenirs. At the end of the street several of the kids tried a Teh Tarik (milk tea), which was delicious.
Next we went out to Bedok Reservoir Park where Forest Adventure is located. FA has small obstacle courses set-up throughout the trees in the park. There are obstacles for adults and kids. All of the students strapped up for the kids one, and at the very end we teachers also got to go through. I wasn’t scared at all, so I felt kind of bad for the kids that were honestly scared out of their wits. At the very end of the obstacle course each person zip-lined into a big pile of sand. It was so much fun! I wish I could have zip-lined more.
When we all completed the course we went to East Coast Park for a BBQ at the beach. We all played in the sand and played some beach volleyball (or at least tried). Then we sat down for a lot of food. It was delicious and really cool to see all the big oil rig boats in the harbor. With full bellies and sand everywhere we got back on the bus. All the kids were fast asleep at bedtime that evening.
Day 6: Friday
Friday was the day! All the kids would finally get to go to Universal Studios.
I wasn’t that excited. I’m not a fan of big rides since I get motion sickness so easily, so I knew most of the day I would just be walking around or sitting. The kids were all super pumped. I said I would go on one big roller coaster with them. The first ride we got in line for was the Transformers 4D ride. It was sweet! You could see, smell, and feel what was happening while you were going along on the ride. It felt like I was an actual roller coaster, but it wasn’t. Next, I got in line for the red roller coaster with the kids. We were in line for almost an hour when it started raining outside so they shut the ride down. We waited a little bit longer and then we were done. By this time it was almost 1:oopm and we were all pretty hungry. We went and got our lunch money and that was the end of rides for me. A few times in the day I went and walked around Universal. It was so small that I could easily walk around the place in twenty minutes or less. It was kind of a joke how small it was. It was still fun for the kids though, so oh well. I wished it hadn’t rained so much, but I think everyone still had a good time.
We left Universal and headed towards Gardens by the Bay. For dinner we got to eat in a foodcourt. I had a Falafel Wrap and Deep Fried Red Velvet Oreos. They were bomb! I didn’t even take a picture of the wrap. It was so good I just destroyed it. The oreos reminded me of fair food that I could get at the Minnesota State Fair. They were amazing too.
With full bellies we started walking around the gardens, making our way to the SuperTrees. It offered plenty of time to take silly pictures one last time.
Once we got done goofing around we went to sit down by the SuperTrees. These trees run off of solar power, and every evening they put on a light show. The theme at the time was “Funky Town”, so it was all funk music. This was my favorite part of the trip by far. I was tapping my feet and singing along. I had a few Chinese tourists stare at me, but I didn’t even care.
The show finished and we headed back to the hotel. We all packed our bags and gave our friends our contact information. It was a bittersweet moment for me. I was really enjoying my time with the kids, but I was exhausted. I was ready for some adult time, even though I would have to say goodbye to my students.
Day 7: Saturday
We spent the morning making sure we were all packed and then we had a mini-rewards ceremony. We all got to sign each others shirts and then we were on the bus headed towards the airport. I was a bit stressed in the Singapore airport, but once we were on the plane I just sat back and watched movies. It felt so nice to just sit and eat.
Back in Taiwan I took pictures with some students and then said goodbye. I was surprised at how emotional I felt. I had had to pay such close attention to them all week that they kind of felt like they were my kids. I think within four hours of me saying goodbye to them I was glad to have my freedom back. Ha!
As far as a traveling experience goes it was way different than what I was used to. I normally would pack my days with activities and everything would involve things that I wanted to see or do. Putting the kids first wasn’t a challenge, but it broadened my mind to what it would be like to travel with children of my own.
I am really glad I applied to work for Singapore Camp. It was a crazy week, but totally worth it. I think at one point I thought it was Wednesday, but it was only Monday. I left camp with memories, lots of laughs, and many bruises (I had been crazy dancing on the bus so much that I had gotten bruises all over my body from the armrests on the seats). If I could do Singapore Camp again, I would. 🙂