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ETA Alumnus Alden Mohacsi At A Czech Summer Camp

Alden Mohacsi spent the last 12 months 
in the Czech Republic. During the school year, Alden assisted with teaching English at Gymnasium and Business Academy and Agriculture and Ecology High School in Zatec. After the sudden termination of the Fulbright program in the spring, Alden decided to stay in the Czech Republic to continue his community engagement projects. One of Alden's last adventurous experiences in the Czech Republic was his participation at an English Language Summer Camp in Nečtiny. 

Hello everyone! I hope you have all been staying safe and feeling well. Summer is in full swing and many of us may be remembering former years and our childhood experiences of summer camp. What did summer camp mean to you? Was it about playing fun and challenging games, going swimming, acting on stage, dancing, team building exercises, or something else entirely? Well at Summer English Camp Nečtiny, former Fulbrighter Jiří Harajda has incorporated all of the above into a welcoming program designed for 6-18 year old students.

About three months ago Jiří (Harry as he’s commonly known) contacted me with some sad news. Due to Covid-19, his colleague from the UK would not be able to attend the camp in Nečtiny, (about 30 km from Plzeň) this year. He then asked if I would be open to taking on the role of English teacher and special guest at his English Camp in Nečtiny. At first I wasn’t sure what to expect but, needless to say I was intrigued and excited to take on the opportunity. My duties included teaching English lessons every morning, teaching the students new games and sports, leading group activities for team bonding, participating in the games (softball, football, etc.), and assisting in special events with the other teachers and staff.

The first unexpected moment I experienced was when I learned that the camp takes place in a chateau! On the grounds of this incredibly beautiful location there is a pond, several forests, and hiking trails (the perfect setting for a summer camp). Each of these locations were used for some really creative games and team building activities.

At the beginning of the camp, Harry introduced all the special guests, myself included. I felt very welcome at the camp because many of the camp attendees were students I knew from the Gymnazium in Žatec. All of the newcomers at camp (myself included) were ushered in by camp veterans via crowd surfing.

After the opening ceremony, a few of the campers were chosen as captains to build teams that they would work with for the rest of the week.

Quite possibly some of the most
competitive games I’ve ever experienced were the forest games and Nečtiny traditional camp games. These activities saw students go head to head in cup-blowing, blanket-ball tossing, finless paddleboard team racing in the pond, my personal favorite game, (that I taught to students throughout the week) Ultimate Frisbee, and so many more.

In addition to these outdoor activities, students also competed in lip synching battles where they really got into the act.

All of these performances were incredibly creative and funny. I have to give “props” to all the students who participated, as they were all very comfortable with performing.

I was also given the opportunity to perform a solo and then to perform together with fellow teacher and special guest Rachel Pabianova.

This resulted in an amazing lip synch performance in which the students emulated one of the performances Rachel and I did together.

Other special events that made the camp memorable for the students (and myself) included an outdoor cinema at sunset (using a projector against the chateau facade), a night where we all slept under the stars (so many comets!!!!!), and a haunted house simulation where the staff and I hid around the chateau and scared the students who were brave enough to run the gauntlet.

In recent years, Harry has also designated an evening half-way through the camp to a surprise guest who comes to the camp to teach a special skill. This year’s guest was famous drummer Papis Nyass, who came to camp to teach the students how to play Gambian Djembe drums!

It was truly an honor and a privilege to learn from Papis Nyass and join in on the session. 

As many of us have attended summer
camp as kids and teens, our ideas and associations with the term “summer camp” vary. My immediate associations with summer camp used to be acting, swimming, dodgeball, and pizza. However, thanks to Harry, and the incredibly dedicated counselors and camp attendees, my new experience at Summer English Camp Nečtiny has changed my definition for summer camp. “Summer camp” now means Community.