Oxbridge Summer Camps Abroad



OSCA Hong Kong 2008


On the 3rd and 4th July, forty four volunteers arrived at the Hong Kong Baptist University campus in upmarket Kowloon Tong for OSCA’s fifth, and biggest, HK camp. Six teams, six weeks and over three thousand students…


The preparation week was packed from the start; beneath the regular downpours of the tail end of the Hong Kong monsoon, we hiked the mountains of the Sai Kung Peninsula, swam in the warm sea during a rainstorm, spent a day on a yacht, banana-boating and water-skiing, shopped, ate, tramped the covered walkways of Hong Kong Island’s swish Central district, attended a day of British Council seminars, went to Macau, met the teaching assistants and, somewhere in there, had a few meetings to plan the teaching starting in week two. Then it was into the teaching – a daily wake up call tipped us out of bed bright and early every morning, and shortly afterwards, teams of teachers, in matching blue OSCA t-shirts, emerged into the bright sunshine and, breakfasts consumed, laden with an assortment of paints, papers, books, CDs and prizes, disappeared into their respective team minibuses for a day’s teaching.


The summer camp day lasted from 9 until 4, with the time divided between English lessons in the morning, and drama, activities and entertainment in the afternoon. The range of choices for the latter two could be guessed just by watching teams return at the end of the day; some still wearing the remains of their students’ fashion show creations – complete with newspaper jacket and tissue paper hula skirt – others daubed in paint or covered in flour and bearing half-dried papier mache masks.


The drama classes produced other entertaining outcomes; the closing ceremony at each camp showcasing the students’ improved English skills as well as, in many cases, their inventive imaginations: a production based on Cinderella featuring Harry Potter and Star Wars was not an uncommon style. Some went musical, with all-singing, all-dancing performances of a scaled-down High School Musical, or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Whatever the choice, the energy and enthusiasm of students and teachers alike was always evident, even if the witch forgot her lines, or a chocolate biscuit had to stand in for the poisoned apple. Drama sessions often proved very popular with the students; a chance to let off steam, play a few games and make some noise – with direction or costume design absorbing the shyer ones.


With Beijing 2008 fast approaching, mini-olympics afternoons were a hit, complete with obligatory inter-class competitiveness (just as strong among teachers as their classes!) and raucous cheering – murder mysteries, giant drawing sessions and musical afternoons also proved equally popular with teachers.


Of course, the volunteers hadn’t all been flown over to Hong Kong for play alone: there was serious work to be done come four o’clock. Choices could be tough, attempting to decide between a swim in the open-air pool up the road from the accommodation, a meal at the Charlie Brown café or a trip on a rigged junk in the harbour. With a budget covering a weekly team social, everyone could count on at least one evening out a week, and most volunteers – eager not to waste their time in HK – easily found ways to fill any spare hour; shopping in the ladies’ market, visiting tourist attractions and museums or belting out 90s classics at karaoke.


The weekends were not short of activity, either. The famous (or infamous) ‘Danger’ camping trip was a particular highlight, with a group of volunteers heading out to camp on a remote beach, followed – for the hardy – by a hike up to Sharp Peak in time for sunrise. A beach BBQ in Stanley one weekend was a more relaxing seaside event, and the tram party in the final week was a massively fantastic chance for all the teachers and teaching assistants to celebrate six full, challenging and successful weeks of OSCA summer camps.


We all parted ways on the 16th August, with many choosing to stay on in Hong Kong for a few more days before heading off into mainland China or on travels in South-East Asia, but all to eventually travel back to the UK in time for the start of term, and ready to meet each other in less exotic – and considerably less warm – settings.


You can see some of the pictures taken by the Hong Kong volunteers here.


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