I recently returned from teaching a week-long summer writing camp in Yong-In Korea, sponsored by The Creative Writing for Children Society of Vancouver (CWC). This was my third trip to teach such a camp in Korea, and the theme of this one was “Fairy Tales, Mythology, and Folklore.” It’s a good thing that my teaching partner for this camp, Kallie George, focused on the works of the Brothers Grimm while earning her Masters at UBC!
Throughout the week, we taught our class of 16 students about various aspects of fairy tales and folklore, including proclamations, transformations, character archetypes and classic plot elements. In addition to writing their own stories, the students also modelled their own talismans out of clay and drew their own enchanted trees and fairy tale characters. One of my personal favourite assignments was when the students each picked a character from fairytale that they were most alike—then drew themselves as that character.
The highlight of the camp was our Fairy Tale Tournament, which involved breaking the kids into teams and having them compete in a seven-game competition. These activities combined some brain-teasers such as word scrambles and a mix-and-match, plus some good-old fashioned carnival fun such as “bobbing for poison apples” and “Robin Hood Archery” (these were just arrows with rubber ends). To cap it all off, we had each team pull three cards from a deck of fairy tale cards then produce a quick skit based on the character, setting, and plot element that was on their cards. The winners of the tournament were knighted and awarded giant golden medals (okay, they were made out of paper—but they looked pretty cool)!
What was so great about this tournament is that it really brought the kids together and helped to break down some barriers between them. Plus, as one of the judges, I got to wear my Jedi Robe and call myself Master Fodiwan!
One of the interesting wrinkles of this camp is that a great portion of it was filmed. The founder of CWC, Joon-Hyung Park, has just finished writing a book about our teaching philosophy that will be published in Korea in November. As part of the promotional efforts for that book, the publisher sent a crew to our location to film us in action. So in addition to having to teach, Kallie and I also had to contend with microphones, cameras, and bright lights.
Of course, it wasn’t all work. After the intensive week-long camp, we took the train down to Gyeongju, in the southern part of Korea. This was the cradle of the Shilla Kingdom, one of the most powerful and influential dynasties in Korean history. Many of our students couldn’t get enough of us, so they came with us to enjoy the humidity and intense heat.
And who has time for jet lag? Kallie and I arrived back in Canada on a Saturday, only to start “camping” all over again by participating in the Vancouver Public Library’s Book Camp that very next Monday! (But that’s another story…)