This year, the annual English & Leadership Camp was held from September 1st to the 3rd in Asago-shi, Hyogo Prefecture
. Through the cooperation of Otemae University and the Asago City local government, 21 students and three faculty members participated in promoting educational exchanges with children. True to the history of the camp, the aim was to provide our students with an atmosphere conducive to collaborating in English freely, building cooperation among peers, and instilling motivation.
The first day was dedicated to learning about Japanese history and local culture. The camp started with an excursion to the Ikuno silver mines
where students received a guided history lesson on the cultural heritage of Ikuno. This was followed by a 20-minute scenic drive to the Uegotakiso waterfall, where students enjoyed lunch surrounded by the sounds and sights of nature. Upon returning to Ikuno, campers were given a tour of actor Takashi Shimura
’s birthplace, which included four restored homes containing interesting antiques from bygone eras. After checking into our accommodation and preparing dinner, everyone focused their remaining energy on a two-hour practice session for teaching English activities for a picnic event scheduled for the next day.
The second day was mostly a day of work. After preparing breakfast and cleaning rooms, students converged on a river picnic site to set up tents, power generators, tables, chairs, and cooking utilities for an event titled, “英語であそぼう!” The occasion was documented by local television and attracted 25 elementary school children grades 1-5 with 20 parents. The day ended with a relaxing evening of making popcorn and watching a current movie.
The final day started with cleaning up our accommodation, preparing breakfast, and ensuring that borrowed kitchen facilities were spotless. Students were then given a period of time to write about their camp experiences and reflections. Those who completed their writing took the extra time to browse some local shops in a 180-year-old building before heading to the bus for the final trip home. This was a time of heartfelt goodbyes as several staff from the Ikuno City office came out for a friendly send-off.
In short, the camp was a success as focus stayed on teamwork and successful collaboration. Many junior and senior students led by example but also stepped aside to allow their younger counterparts to serve and lead. Ultimately, the multiple integrated tasks with a diverse group of people enabled us to realize the university’s goals of attaining social responsibility, teamwork, logical thinking, analysis, creativity, planning, communication, presentation, leadership, and action. Moreover, a stronger friendship and bond between Otemae University and Ikuno was cemented, paving the way for more camps and events in the future.
Finally, a big thanks goes out to all the IIE teachers and staff who made this camp possible. Hundreds of hours were put into this team effort and the students have shown their gratitude through both word and deed.