I could work for a summer camp in the U.S., but I hope to work for ACLE instead for several reasons:

(1) I want to visit the parts of the world near the Mediterranean. While I think it would be fun to go and simply wander around, I'd much rather have some good work to help me make a connection to people and to a place before doing so.

(2) I believe it would be a lot of fun to work with the kids at ACLE's Summer and City Camps, as well as a good personal challenge. I'm more excited about the challenge of being a summer camp counselor for ACLE than in restoring old villages, for example. Although by the end of a summer with ACLE I expect I'd look forward to a restoration vacation.

As an ACLE summer camp counselor, I would offer:
(1) A fair amount of experience as a teacher.
(2) A lot of thought about what a teacher and education should be like.
(3) Significant experience as a student and camper from which to draw.
(4) Enthusiasm for the challenge of loving life and for working with others on that challenge.

I have been drawn to teaching since 1994, when I took jobs as a computer instructor for elementary school students and as a Recreation Leader for an after school program for pre-school to 2nd graders. Actually, prior to that I had taught sailing and windsurfing to both youth and adults at summer camps and on evenings and weekends during the school year. I decided, however, to study computer engineering in college. But I was distracted from my classes one quarter by questions I eventually decided were best approached through psychology. I then focused on creating environments that would help me and others develop a greater understanding of life questions (e.g. the nature of meaning in life), and which would help increase both my and others' love of life. More recently (1999) I was an assistant teacher at a Quaker Yearly Meeting (a week-long gathering at a family camp) for first through third graders.

The past two years I have focused largely on learning how to love life. That led me to my work with computers, which I found very engaging (engagement helps me experience peace of mind). After six months of full-time computer work, I switched to half-time, and a month or so later began to study dance (ballet, modern, jazz). Dancing helps me to feel very strongly emotional connection to and love of life, while also being intensely engaging. Four months ago, after a visit to New York City (I was thinking about moving there so I could take more dance classes), I began to seriously wonder about what to do next.

I researched counseling (as in Marriage and Family Therapy) and teaching as possibilities. I found aspects of both practices I could value, while learning a lot about the harm and misdirection often present in both the counselor-client and teacher-student relationship. Currently I volunteer at a counseling center as a crisis line counselor. For me, this provides the emotionally-involving challenge of assisting people in difficult situations, while also allowing me to be around others who are interested in and who talk about counseling issues and emotional experience more than computer programmers might.

I also began taking a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor [WSI] class so that I could teach swimming. In my exploration of teaching, I felt most comfortable with those approaches to education which attempt to create rich environments for people, and then let people direct their own learning. You may have heard of "unschooling," Summerhill (UK), and Sudbury Valley schools, which all are related to this concept. I especially like "the Teenage Liberation Handbook," which encourages students to escape high school and work on their own projects. I also find the web site of "Not Back to School Camp" (www.nbtsc.org) inspiring. Given my bias toward self-directed study, I found it difficult to think of things to teach that I could feel were truly worth teaching and that I would enjoy teaching. I had however long wanted to teach swimming, but not wanted to do so enough to take the WSI class until a few months ago.

Teaching English, especially at a summer camp, is also something I can feel good about. Being a teacher in a typical school environment does not excite me. In the long run, I would like a way of life where I can live mostly outside and do a lot of physical work. I realize I probably will not be able to teach swimming, live outside, or do a lot of physical work at ACLE Summer Camps, but I will have time for that later. Eventually I may be a counselor at Eckerd Youth Camps (www.eckerd.org), where I'd assist boys who had gotten into a fair amount of trouble in learning ways of interacting with others less likely to land them in prison.

To summarize, I've explored and thought a lot about the nature of desirable life experience and how such experience can be fostered in my own life and in the lives of others. I've enjoyed teaching different skills in the past, and believe it would be fun to help Italian children learn English at a summer camp.

I should also mention that I've studied French, Latin, and Spanish with many different teachers, and have some idea of how it can be fun to learn a language (do service projects in Mexico, attempt to read Gabriel Garcia Marquez in Spanish, write and perform stories and plays in the foreign language you're interested in).

Should I be able to be a counselor for the ACLE Summer Camps, I expect to gain from the challenge of helping kids in a culture different from my own love learning a skill (English) that I believe they want to learn and will value learning. There is a lot of work in English worth reading! While this will be different from anything I've done before, I believe I will be successful because of what I now believe and what I have already been able to do.

~A Challenging Situation~

When I was an assistant teacher for the Quaker Yearly Meeting (South Central Region, I think) for the 1st through 3rd graders, the kids were preparing a puppet show about events from Quaker past. They had made their puppets and the scenery and were now practicing their lines and acting with the puppets. Everyone had a part to play that they were happy with. Unfortunately, the three plays/stories turned out to be too long for the time we had to perform. I presented the situation to the puppeteers: they had three stories to show, but really only had time for two. As an audience member, I felt that two of the stories were more fun to watch than the third and thought they might agree.

I should mention that adult Quakers in groups make decisions through consensus. This means everyone whom the decision affects must agree, or at least not dissent. I first sought consensus from the kids for dropping one of the stories, "Does anyone disagree that we should drop one of the stories? ... Does anyone agree that we should drop one of the stories?" They would signal agreement or disagreement by raising their hand. As I asked the questions I would raise my hand as a way of showing support and providing an example for anyone who wanted to express either position. Consensus on that question was reached. As for which story should be dropped however, all but two agreed we should drop the third. There was consensus for not dropping the other two (a peculiar situation--I may not be remembering correctly).

One of the dissenters explained that he had the major role in the third story, and hardly any role in any of the other stories. The other had made a puppet she was proud of (a horse, I think) that appeared only in the third story. I asked the kids if anyone could think of anything that could be done so that these two might agree to drop the third story. Those who had something to say raised their hands and each would be heard. One of them suggested that Amelia be able to use her horse in one of the other stories. The boy who would lose his main role suggested that he split the main role (same character and same puppet) in another story. They all agreed to these changes, and then were able to agree to drop the third story. So the show went on, even though George Fox had a change of voice halfway through the second story (a solution that would not have occurred to me).

The other teachers liked how I handled this situation--it was not usual to have kids of this age use consensus decision-making to solve their own problems.

~List of songs~

Hog-calling time in Nebraska

"When I was boy, back on a farm in Nebraska, there was a special time of year when the leaves of the few trees we had started to turn golden, and the first frosts were in the air... Then, it was hog-calling time in Nebraska, and we'd sing a song that went like this:
When it's hog calling time in Nebraska,
When it's hog calling time in Nebraska,
When it's hog calling time in Nebraska,
Then it's hog calling time in Nebraska

... and so on and so on, emphasizing different words, varying volume, attitude, emotion... animal sounds
One last time now... Oh, just once more (perhaps).

I can come up with other songs from my Boy Scout days, but it might be more fun to sing some gospel songs:

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.

Much of the singing I did aside from boy scouts, was religious in nature, or if in English, was more esoteric. I've also been very interested in Hebrew songs, because I like Jewish music and singing (all without accompaniment) very much, and that is not in English.

I found some good ones at:
I'm a Little Teapot
The Noble Duke of York
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

Christmas carols would be fun also: Jingle Bells

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