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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Friday, 05 December 2014 00:00

Children’s Enrichment Holiday Camp

Written by  Koh Poo Leng, Klang / Translated by Tee Choon Pei

During the action-packed three-day camp organized by Tzu Chi Continuing Education Centre (Klang), the yoga class was full of laughter when some plump kids could not lift their legs. [Photography by Lai Kin Hoong]

Tzu Chi Continuing Education Centre (Klang) organized an educational holiday camp for children from December 3 – 5, 2014. At the three-day intensive camp, the children learnt new life’s skills through a series of active and quiet activities. They were happy and did not feel tired at all!


 
The year-end school holidays had overwhelmed parents with all kinds of holiday camps or intensive courses. Indeed, children ought to live a colourful life, which include caring companionship, knowledge of current affairs, value enhancement and self-improvement.
 
Due to the positive response from the 2013 two-day holiday camp, Tzu Chi Continuing Education Centre (Klang) decided to organize a children’s holiday camp from December 3 -5, 2014. The camp provided a series of dynamic and static curriculum, mainly for children to experience a different learning from school.
 
Tan Lee Ching, the volunteer-in-charge said sincerely, “This year’s holiday camp is enriched with baking lessons, cooking lessons, clay art, tea ceremony, ikebana and dance. It is hoped that the children would go back and share with their parents their experiences during the intensive three-day camp. By so doing, the parents can feel their children’s development in the three days.” 
 
Fun clay craft
 
On the first day of the camp, an ice-breaking game had energized the 29 participants. The group interaction had broken down the barriers among participants, with some becoming good friends. This group of six to twelve-year-olds, who hailed from different places, had learnt and grown together in the camp.
 
The children put all their efforts and hearts to learn in the first clay session, which they thoroughly enjoyed. A sense of accomplishment was all over their faces when they completed their artwork. Teacher Chia Peak Hong said, “Every step must be performed carefully so that you can produce a unique pottery.”
 
“Decoupage”, a decorative technique, was new to the children. They became very excited when Teacher Yan Cai Jun showed them the cartoon stickers. The assistants needed to appease them repeatedly. From sculpting to pasting, the children were very focused in completing their own artwork.
 
Going into the third session of baking, the children were guided by Teacher Melinda Soon, a first timer baking teacher at the Tzu Chi Continuing Education Centre (Klang). She coached the children to complete fruit tarts by using bread and diced fruits. The simple, yet delicious desserts delighted the children, who also brought some home to share with their parents.
 
“The curriculum is really enriching. Holiday camps for children are actually very helpful. Instead of going shopping and playing mobile games, the children can at least learn to make a fruit tart here; and they can even make it for their parents,” Melinda said with a smile. She felt fortunate having volunteers to help control the class throughout.
 
Melinda has taught at Tzu Chi Continuing Education Centre for eight years. Her initial intention was to use it as a stepping stone to recruit more students for her own business. However, influenced by Tzu Chi’s humanistic values over time, her mindset had changed. “I am enjoying myself, and I just want to share my knowledge with everyone. I wish to invite my students to join and volunteer for Tzu Chi,” Melinda added. She is looking forward to teaching at the Tzu Chi Continuing Education Centre (Klang) again.
 
Entertaining yoga
 
The following day, the children brought their yoga mat, and followed the body-stretching movements shown by Teacher Lim Thow Pang. It was a class full of laughter as some children could not lift their legs or bend their bodies due to their plump stature; but those with lithe bodies could follow the moves.
 
After some sweating, the children’s eyes lit up when they saw a small swimming pool in the classroom. But the pool was not meant for them to dabble. It was brought in by Teacher Lim Wei Seong for the creative craft lesson. He asked the children to do a model sailboat, and let it sail in the pool. The children had so much fun in the craft workshop.
 
After the “playful” yoga and “artful” craft, the children learnt about “patience” in the third session of ikebana. As the saying goes: “In each flower, there is a universe; in each leaf, there is the Dharma”. Teacher Wong Yuen Shinn from Tzu Chi KL & Selangor guided the children to portray Zen in the flower arrangement using scattered flowers and foliage. The children were all very focused in producing a potted plant with Zen art.
 
The children were also helped by a team of mothers, who guided and cared for them regularly. Wearing a pair of glasses, a weak See Keat Seng, who joined the mothers’ team at a volunteer’s request, used her recuperating time to interact with the children. Although it was a hectic schedule, this mother of four did not feel tired.
 
With a smile, she remarked, “In fact, it is not difficult, we just need to accompany them. This is a good opportunity to serve. I am taking care of a relatively young group; I will soon get into the swing of things.” She cared for the children like her own, and seeing them happy was the happiest moment.
 
After two days, the children’s connection with their peers improved; they were like family. Cecelia Chin Xuan Ni, who had performed all activities conscientiously, happily declared, “I made many new friends and I hope to meet them again in future.” 
 
Tea ceremony experience
 
All children reported themselves on the third day and were seen frolicking in the room. The day began with cake-making by Teacher Tracy Lau.
 
The colourful candy on the table had attracted the children’s attention; and they were tingling with anticipation. A gingerbread man and a cupcake brought great joy to them. Teacher Tracy’s method had not only deepened their knowledge in baking, but also gave them a lesson filled with aroma. After two hours of baking, they were thrilled to see the freshly- baked pastries. Some could not wait to stuff the pastries into their mouths, but the majority packed the handmade pastry into lunch boxes, to take home for their parents.
 
Following that was the tea ceremony class. There was a long table decorated with many delicate snacks prepared by volunteer, Wen BaoYu. The “tea ceremony” had allowed the children to appreciate the aesthetics of drinking tea. Under the guidance of Teacher Liao Shu Yu, they sat on the chair with their feet firmly together on the ground, and hands on their legs, learning to be a little gentleman or a lady. Ironically, some could not help but shake their legs habitually, and some chatted aloud unknowingly.
 
An enthusiastic 12-year-old Nyew Xiang Sheng seemed to be a born gentleman. He poured tea for the younger sisters in the team, and his presentation of teacakes won praises from the teacher. He said, “Apart from learning the art of drinking tea, I have learnt to serve tea to my parents with a thankful, respectful and loving heart. This is why we need to sit properly to behave gentlemanly and ladylike.”
 
Xiang Sheng felt very happy to be able to participate and learn something new. At a young age, he admitted life had been stressful with tuition classes or naps after school. “Here, I have picked up yoga and artwork. I like making biscuits and cooking most,” said Xiang Sheng joyfully. “This camp makes me very happy. I want to thank the aunties and uncles (volunteers) for organizing all the exciting activities; and my parents for enrolling me for the camp,” a grateful Xiang Sheng added.
 
Dance was the last session. The melodious rhythm and light dance steps had enticed the children and assistants to dance and sweat together.
 
Harvest of gratitude
 
Time flies when one is having fun; and it was time to say goodbye. The parents and children attended a simple closing ceremony to reflect on what they had learnt in the three days.
 
An embarrassed Yang Mei Mei shared on stage, “As a mum, I do not know that bread can be made into tarts.” The three-day camp had proved fruitful for her daughter, who would talk non-stop about the camp and then fall asleep in under 15 minutes on their way home. As a Tzu Chi volunteer, and to satisfy her daughter’s appetite for art, she registered her for the camp without hesitation when she saw the leaflet.
 
Nine-year-old mandarin-speaking Amanda Lee Nixon, who is of mixed parentage, was registered by her mother. She said, “My favourite class is dancing, because I am good in dancing. I also like the tea ceremony lessons, as I want to prepare tea for my mum and dad at home, to thank them for enrolling me for the camp.”
 
Lee Ching, who was gratified upon seeing the children’s satisfied expressions said, “The children have given full cooperation but, as usual, there are some impatient ones. Overall, this is a novel experience for them. I hope this three-day camp would be their best holiday memories.”
 
 
From static to dynamic activities or vice versa, the children have had a rewarding holiday through their participation in the nine lessons over the three days. A truly different experience in life!
 
 
The brain teasers played were designed by the Education Group to train the children on courage and cooperative behaviour. [Photography by Lai Kin Hoong]   Pottery teacher, Chia Peak Hong, guided the children attentively. [Photography by Koh Poo Leng]

The brain teasers played were designed by the Education Group to train the children on courage and cooperative behaviour. [Photography by Lai Kin Hoong]
 
Pottery teacher, Chia Peak Hong, guided the children attentively. [Photography by Koh Poo Leng]
 
Teacher Melinda (middle in white), a first timer in teaching baking at the Tzu Chi Continuing Education Centre (Klang), had enjoyed her session throughout. [Photography by Koh Poo Leng]   Amanda Lee Nixon, who is of mixed parentage, paid full attention at tea ceremony lessons. She intends to serve tea to her parents to thank them. [Photography by Koh Poo Leng]

Teacher Melinda (middle in white), a first timer in teaching baking at the Tzu Chi Continuing Education Centre (Klang), had enjoyed her session throughout. [Photography by Koh Poo Leng]
 
 
Amanda Lee Nixon, who is of mixed parentage, paid full attention at tea ceremony lessons. She intends to serve tea to her parents to thank them. [Photography by Koh Poo Leng]
 
Nine-year-old Cecelia Chin Xuan Ni felt happy to have made many friends. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]   Nyew Xiang Sheng was focused during the three-day camp. He appreciated the volunteers’ efforts and his parents’ love for giving him the opportunity to learn different things. [Photography by Koh Poo Leng]

Nine-year-old Cecelia Chin Xuan Ni felt happy to have made many friends. [Photograph by Koh Poo Leng]
 
 
Nyew Xiang Sheng was focused during the three-day camp. He appreciated the volunteers’ efforts and his parents’ love for giving him the opportunity to learn different things. [Photography by Koh Poo Leng]
 
Yang Mei Mei felt happy with her daughter’s developments. She posed happily with her daughter and her creations. [Photography by Koh Poo Leng]   Children happily took a photo with the creative craft teacher, Lim Wei Seong. [Photography by Tan Kim Chew]

Yang Mei Mei felt happy with her daughter’s developments. She posed happily with her daughter and her creations. [Photography by Koh Poo Leng]
 
 
Children happily took a photo with the creative craft teacher, Lim Wei Seong. [Photography by Tan Kim Chew]