Country Club Pt. II

Posted: May 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

Very late last night I got back from another English language camp for children. I got to spend three days in what is essentially a resort owned by the state university (aka the Lehigh of Ulyanovsk) located an hour away on the other side of the Volga. When leaving my room to head off to the camp, I was greeted by the surprise of a babushka herding goats across the lawn in front of my dorm.

First I saw people riding horses, then I saw a babushka with goats. Life is always interesting at the university.

The resort was great. Due to the number of staff, I got my own room, which had a nice balcony and view of the grounds. I spent three days playing with kids and teaching them English. The best activity was on the last day, which my assignment from morning until dinner was to teach the kids how to play baseball. The kids really seemed to enjoy the game and some of them were great athletes and instantly picked up the mechanics of the game. There was one kid named Herman who didn’t really seem to be interested in many activities, but he got really excited by playing baseball and made me play with him when we had free time. Another boy named Marcel was also a star at the game and always wanted to play. The kids weren’t the only people to enjoy the game. Julio from Indonesia loved it and wants me to call him to play some more before I head back home. Mahmood also enjoyed it and interrogated me one night about my promise to play with my students from the university.

The merry-go-round was third base and the trees were second. There was another merry-go-round, which was first base.

Another amenity of the camp was an old piano located in a hallway. I don’t really play piano, but it was fun to mess around with it. Apparently the tune “Heat and Soul” isn’t as widely known in Russia. Sadly, a quarter of the keys didn’t work, a quarter were misaligned so they hit either the wrong note or two notes at once, and the whole thing was horrendously out of tune. Lesson learned – old Russian pianos are cool, but they don’t hold up to time as well as Steinways.

As bad as it was, I want this piano. One of my newest hobbies is collecting pianos, and this would go nicely with my others.

One of the best parts of the camp was the beach on the Volga. It was nice to put my feet in the water during the heat of the day as well as to hang out on the beach at night after lights out for the kids. There was only one slight problem, the ice only recently melted in the Volga, so the water was absolutely frigid. My feet went numb after a few seconds in the water. It felt good after being on my feet running after kids all day, though.

Not long after this photo, we awkwardly hobbled out of the water on numb feet. The only problem was that the sand was also very cold.
Ohai, Devon-san. I told you I brought the shorts I stole from you to Russia.

The theme of the camp was advertising and each of the groups made commercials for the camp, which is called Country Club. There were some really great videos, one of which was almost professional in quality. My favorite video, though, was done by the group of youngest kids. They did a claymation video in which various words came on the screen and certain letters stayed to spell out “Country Club.” Playing baseball was also included in a few of the commercials, including the winning one.

On the last night, many of the kids were really sad to hear that a few of us were leaving that night and not with the rest of them the next morning. I wanted to go home early because the festivities for Victory Day started before I would have arrived back in the city had I gone back with everyone else (more on this will be covered in another post as I need to get the photos from someone else’s camera). I was hugged many times by various kids and some of them even started to cry. My response to this was to pick up the crying children and teenagers and walk away with them, telling them that I was going to kidnap them and take them home with me. They seemed to enjoy that.
The only bad part of the camp was that I forgot to take my sun block and bug spray with me. The result is that I have a mild sun burn on my arms and legs. I also have approximately 9 billion mosquito bites. This figure is not far from an exaggeration. Okay, maybe I only have about 40, but still. All in all, the bites and burns were worth it.

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