For my Duke of Edinburgh awards I had to do various services and skills as well as an expedition and a project. For my service, because of my history in the Scouting movement, I chose Beavers as a weekly group that I would help out with. In the end, as with all aspects of the award, it benefited me more in the long run than it did for the award.
In secondary school I did a week of work experience at the local primary school to see if I would enjoy teaching as a career. Since the other option at the time was animation; and I couldn't get in to Aardman (creators of "Wallace & Gromit" etc) because of the ridiculously high demand, I had to presume that I would have liked that better and I pretty much wrote off teaching despite a fairly fun week!
My Beavers work continued right up until my 18th Birthday before I had travel and University in the way. I was sad to see the commitment go but knew that one day it may all come in useful. As early as Borneo, I found myself using some of the skills!
Having been given 10 minutes to "plan" an hour long lesson for fifteen Malaysian 8 year olds, I was thrown into the fray alone and immediately had to try and make a good impression on the children who were to become my first ever students.
Inspired by "North, East, South, West" (a Beaver game) and some Maths games from school also involving direction; I proceeded to teach the children about the compass points. With balloons as the prizes I'd soon captured the attentions of the entire class and began to have fun as the children took turns playing a directional instruction game before I got them all playing "N, E, S, W".
This positive experience, coupled with the time spent with the Beavers, were key points in my reasoning for summer camp. Eventually I ended up at a camp in Pennsylvania and had an awesome time. The point that stands out for me as a leader figure (in my mind) was on a rainy day where all of the children at the adventure course (around twelve 10 year old boys) had been ushered into the A-Frame (Adventure Course equipment store) and were running wild.
Despite being the youngest international staff member in the room I figured that I should at least try to keep the peace if no one else wanted to and began telling the kids about a game called "Frogs". After a minute I had the kids lined up and jumping "into the pond", "onto the bank" and trying to stand still when I said "on the pond" or "in the bank"! The next half an hour flew by as Helen and I ran them through various games which ended with "Sleeping Lions" to give us all a break!
Along with my failing Computer Programming career, I was again thrust into the "what do I want from life" state whereby I had to weigh up a load of options to see what I thought I would enjoy. Canada became an option after being offered Landscaping; as far away from the office-type indoors as can be.
This week I joined two youth groups! One is called "FUEL", meets on a Monday and is for high school age kids, the other is called "Kids Club", meets on a Wednesday and is for elementary age kids. Having realised that teaching may still be an option; I was inspired to get experience in all areas of working with kids so the chance to join two different groups is great.
Tombert and I looking suave in our suits
For FUEL we had a formal Valentines meal and I went dressed in a James Bond style suit and bowtie! Coupled with the accent and dashing good looks, I probably made more than a few people take a second glance to make sure that I wasn’t actually James Bond! I did manage to refrain asking for my drink “shaken not stirred” because it was a coke and I didn’t envision that scenario ending well for me!
Working with Thea at Kids Club, I hope to learn a few things indirectly from her teaching degree that will help me as I gear up for a career in that direction. Apparently I have made a good start though (a group of girls still obsessing over my lame snowman “do you smell carrots?” joke; almost like the fan club I had a summer camp calling me “Carrot” and wanting to speak to me every time I went past!) and I look forward to continuing both clubs in my busy schedule.
Currently I am the “local celebrity” that comes with being English in Canada and though everyone looks at me when I am talking, they do tend to finish off by giggling loudly because I’ll pronounce a word differently or something! Having met a girl called Heather who did the exact opposite to me (born in UK, grew up in Canada), I was surprised at how strong her English accent (which she can now turn on and off at will) was when she used it and inspired to learn the second accent and the ability to switch at any point.
After all, it is great to have the attention that being English brings!