Is camp teaching for you? In order to answer this question, Language Link has put together a number of FAQs which when consider as a whole should help you to decide if shaking it up with a bunch of kids over the summer in Russiais inane and insane or simply too cool to miss out on.
For your convenience, the FAQs have been broken down into a number of distinct sections.
Arrival in Russia
Camp Information (Administrative)
Camp Information (Academic)
General Questions about Eligibility
Who can apply for a camp position?
If you are a native born citizen of the US, UK, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand or you were naturalized at a very young age and hold citizenship in one of these countries, you may apply for a position as a camp teacher. Though Language Link is an equal opportunity employer, we do take applicant age into consideration.
Applicants should be at least 20 years of age and though there is no official upper age limit, applicants (in addition to teaching English) must be prepared and able to participate in physical and sporting activities from time to time.
What qualifications, experience and/or skills do camp teachers need to possess?
There are no official qualifications, experience and/or skills required in order to apply for a position as a camp teacher. Of course, ‘points’ are awarded to applicants who do hold teaching qualifications, have prior experience working either in camps or with young people, or hold specialized training certificates.
Not having qualifications, experience and/or specialized skills however should not prevent you from applying for a position. The main job of a camp teacher is (to state the obvious) to teach English and to be sociable, friendly, giving and approachable. These latter skills can’t be taught or acquired by certification or through experience.
What qualities is Language Link looking for in its camp teachers?
Language Link is looking for applicants who are adult and mature enough to serve as role models and teachers.
Equally important is the need for applicants to be young or young at heart, sociable and ready to shake it up with young people. Finally, applicants also need to be friendly yet understand the difference between being ‘friendly’ and being friends.
When do camp teachers need to be in Russia?
If you are considering applying for a position as a camp teacher, you must be able to arrive in Russia in time for pre-camp training. Pre-camp training takes place during the last week of May. Even if you hold a teaching qualification, Language Link insists that all camp teachers go through a short training programme.
Following completion of the training programme, camp teachers will be sent on to their camp teaching assignments in time to start teaching from the beginning of June.
General Questions about Applications
How do I apply for a camp position?
To apply for a camp teaching position, simply fill in the online application form.
Once your application has been received, you will be notified and sent both general information and a sample contract for your review.
Do I need to provide references and if so, what kind of references should I provide?
Yes! Language Link requires at least two professional and/or academic references. In order of preference, Language Link would like to obtain references from 1) camp directors where you have previously worked or work references from places where you have held employment positions,
2) professional references from supervisors or heads of organizations of which you have either been a member or served in a voluntary capacity and/or 3) academic references from teachers or professors who know you well. Personal references are not acceptable.
Do I need to attend an interview?
Applicants, who have reviewed Language Link’s general information and find the terms and conditions of the sample contract acceptable, should notify Language Link by e-mail of their intention to continue with the recruitment process.
Once this confirmation has been received, you will be contacted so as to arrange a convenient time when a member of Language Link’s Recruitment Department can call you for a short Skype or telephone interview. Please note that Language Link can only make calls to landlines and not mobile phones. If you only have access to a cell phone, then an interview can be arranged provided you initiate the phone call.
If I am selected for a position, how will I be notified?
If you are selected for a position, you will be notified by e-mail.
Will I receive a contract?
Yes! Along with the e-mail notifying you that you have been selected for a position, you will receive an attached contract. The contract will be made out to you and will contain the basic terms and conditions under which Language Link is offering you employment.
The salary will be stipulated in the contract. In addition to remuneration, you also receive free room and board, visa support, health care and transport to and from your camp at the start and finish of your teaching contract.
How do I confirm my acceptance of a position teaching in a summer camp?
Once you have received a job offer, you will be asked to confirm receipt of the offer. You will then have a few days to consider the offer. If you decide to accept the offer, you will be asked to notify Language Link of this decision and to confirm your acceptance by sending Language Link three documents: a copy of your passport details, a copy of the signature page of your contract, and a completed letter of invitation information form. The signature page, once signed and filled in, can be returned to Language Link by fax. The letter of invitation information form can be downloaded to your computer and then returned as an e-mail attachment. Your passport details, however, must be sent as a scanned copy attached to an e-mail. Before returning your passport details page, please be sure to open the attachment to ensure that it is clear and readable.
Once these documents have been received, Language Link will confirm their receipt and at the appropriate time issue you with the necessary documents needed to obtain a visa.
General Questions about Preparation
Is there anything that I can do to prepare for a camp teaching position?
While there is no requirement to bring anything other than personal necessities (clothing, toiletries, a towel), it never hurts to bring over things showing real English, for example menus, newspapers, magazines (also good for pictures), pictures of your family and friends and hometown. Referred to as realia, these items can be used in class as a spring board to class discussions, picture books, and other interesting activities. Second, and as importantly, you should familiarize yourself with the Bobby J Adventure Academy camp concept. At this time, Bobby J is being made into a website. Though still under construction, the website does provide lots of conceptual ‘adventure’ information. If you understand the concept, it will be easier for you to plan Bobby J-like items that you may wish to bring with you. Likewise, anything which encourages a Bobby J active lifestyle will be a big hit with the kids. Things such as Frisbees, Hacky Sacks, soft rubber footballs, Chinese jump ropes and their like have proved to be big hits. On the softer side of life hair beads and Hair Beads Slyder, patches, badges, etc have also proved useful.
Remember, the key to being accepted is popularity and anything that will make you a magnet for kids will help to make you popular.
General Questions about Arrival in Russia
Will I need to obtain a visa?
Yes! In order to enter the Federal Republic of Russia, you will need to obtain a three-month single entry visa.
For more information about visas and how to apply for a visa, please visit the visa section of our website.
When should I plan to arrive in Russia?
In order to be considered for a position as a camp teacher, you must be prepared to arrive in Russia for the mandatory camp training that takes place during the last week of May.
Will I be met at the airport?
Yes. On arrival in Russia, you will be met at the airport by a Language Link representative who will take you to your accommodation where you will be living while attending the mandatory camp training session. Thereafter you will be provided with transportation to the camp where you will be teaching.
General Questions about Training
Will I receive training before being sent to a camp?
Yes. Even if you are a qualified and/or experienced EFL teacher, you will need to go through the Language Link Summer Camp Training Programme.
What long will the training take and what does it consist of?
Prior to leaving for their camps, teachers go through a three day preparatory program which is designed to give camp teachers the necessary basic knowledge and skills to succeed as English teachers. Though the training programme that you will receive is far from being comparable to a CELTA or similar TEFL teaching certificate, it will equip you with the necessary language teaching tools. During the training, you will be introduced to the Bobby J programme; be taught how to perform entrance testing; be instructed on the use of supplementary materials, classroom games and activities and be trained in classroom management techniques.
You will also have the opportunity to do observed teaching.
General Questions about Camp Administration
Where are the summer camps located?
Language Link participates in five summer camp programmes.
For exact locations, please visit our Camp Locations & Dates page of our website.
How long do summer camps run for?
Summer camps usually start on either the first or second Monday of June and run continually until mid to late August.
During that time period, the teacher will conduct a number of two-week English courses which coincide with the start and finish or each two-week camp session.
How will I get to the camp that I am assigned to?
Depending upon the location of the camp, teachers will either be transported by bus along with the camp children or fly in the company of the first session camp children.
How many camp teachers will there be in each camp?
Normally, there is only one camp teacher per camp, though occasionally two teachers are requested.
What kind of facilities can I expect to find in the camps?
Unlike camps in the US, most Russian camps are located in former "pioneer camps," which were like Boy Scout camps for young Soviet children. The camps consist of compounds of buildings and sports facilities, like football pitches, volleyball courts (often used for "Pioneer Ball"), and sometimes a swimming pool. There is also a general canteen for meals and usually a small food shop near the camp grounds. Dubravushka is a boarding school so has sole use of its facilities, while Zelenyi Gorod shares its camp grounds with other camps.
Where will I be living while at the camp?
Depending on which camp you are at, you might be living in a single room in the same building as the campers or in a flat provided by the camp's administration.
Will there be a camp liaison to help me?
Even though you’ll be far from the central offices of Language Link, a member of the academic management team will always be available by e-mail or telephone if you have questions or concerns. The 'camp liaison' will go through the aforementioned camp preparatory programme with you and visit the camp during your first week to make sure you’re settled in and things are going well (Kaluga and Leningrad regions only). The 'camp liaison' will visit from time to time throughout the summer to observe lessons and offer valuable feedback and advice to assist you to improve your lessons.
If at any point during the camp you feel that you could use more supplementary materials, you can contact your camp liaison who will arrange for these materials to be delivered to you.
What should I do if I am ill while at camp?
If you are ill and unable to teach, you should notify the camp administration as soon as possible so that other activities can be planned.
As these lessons are paid, the teacher will need to make up the lessons by either teaching on a weekend day (normally the teacher's time off) or making upcoming lessons slightly longer to make up for the missed time.
Will I be able to leave the camp during my time off?
Yes. Language Link provides transportation to and from the camp at the beginning and the end of camps. If while at camp you wish to spend a weekend in Moscow or St Petersburg you will be responsible for paying for your own transportation into the city and back to the camp. That said, the camps in the Moscow area and the camp in the St Petersburg area are all accessible by elektrichka, or electric suburban train. There are also buses that run from the elektrichka stations near Dubravushka to the metro in Moscow, but both the trains and the buses usually only run from about 6 am until 10 pm.
Though Language Link cannot guarantee accommodation for summer camp teachers in Moscow or St. Petersburg on weekends, we have been able to arrange for the use of flats when notified in advance.
In any event, most camp teachers who have taken advantage of networking opportunities during their training week have been able to arrange accommodation with other Language Link teachers.
General Questions about the Academic Programme
How old are the children that I will be teaching?
Children attending camps in Russia will be between the ages of 6 and 16.
What kind of teaching facilities do the camps have?
You will have a classroom with a board, access to a photocopier, a tape-recorder, and the Bobby J series of camp textbooks.
You may not be in the same classroom the entire day, therefore you should make a conscious effort to leave each classroom as you found it (which can be difficult with lazy, summertime-minded students, so you must be strict with them about cleaning up after themselves).
What are the overall academic responsibilities of a camp teacher?
It is your responsibility to prepare for each class that you are scheduled for in a professional manner. You are also responsible for being to class on time, taking attendance and teaching for the required time period e.g. 45, 60 or 90 minutes.
If you assign homework, you are required to check it even if only to ascertain student difficulties.
What will I be teaching the children?
Though the obvious answer might appear to be 'English', camp teachers usually leave a far greater and longer lasting impression than English alone can account for. Certainly, students will improve their use of English, but more importantly they will also learn about you and your culture.
The more you are willing to share in an appropriate, mature and adult-like manner, the more they will take in.
How long are the classes and what is a typical day like?
Your workdays will begin relatively early, around 8 or 9 o'clock in the morning. An average day would see you having breakfast, teaching an average of three to four academic hours, breaking for lunch and 'tikhiij chas' (quiet hour) and then returning to teach your remaining groups. After classes, there would be excursions and activities until dinner, following which there would be more activities for the children. You are NOT required to take part in every activity, but rather several a week. Following these activities, you are free to plan the next day’s classes, hang out with the kids, and/or relax in your lodgings. This routine will be repeated more or less each day thereafter.
Working at summer camp is not a nine-to-five job.
Some days you may be asked to do extra activities with the children such as on the 4th of July or English-Heritage Day while other days may be slower, with only the pre-scheduled events occurring (for example, an evening disco or an all-camp scavenger hunt).
Am I responsible for making sure the children attend classes?
No, though in the past, teachers have gone out and 'rounded up' their students. Part of the problem with student attendance is related to scheduling conflicts. As English is an 'add-on feature' to the summer camp, there may be times when English will conflict with swimming or other sporting activities. Given a choice, most children would prefer to swim or play football. Of course, being a popular teacher will do a lot to offset the call of the pool or football field.
In any event, teachers can expect student attendance to be haphazard so they should be flexible in teaching and try to keep their students' attention when they do show up.
Will I need to take attendance and/or complete other paperwork?
Teachers should keep strict records of student attendance and make any absences known to the camp's administration. As previously mentioned, English is an 'add-on feature' to the summer camp, therefore parents have paid extra for their children to attend lessons.
As might be expected, if a parent discovers that their child hasn't been attending English lessons and that there was no attempt to correct this situation, the parent will be rightfully angry and will most likely demand their money back. Therefore, it is in the teacher's interest to keep administration informed of absences.
Do I need to keep track of the hours that I teach?
Yes. Teachers are asked to keep logs of their teaching as in some cases teachers will be entitled to overtime payment.
34. What do I do if I have an academic problem?
If you have an academic problem, contact your camp liaison immediately for help.