English Camp in Gunma
If you reach back deeep in to your memory in the past, you may be able to pull up some small memories of your summer camp or a school camping function. If you think fondly back on these camping adventures, you undoubtedly remember the famed camp couselors. In Otcober our school received a request from a high school in Kanagawa asking for help with an English camp held in the mountains of Gunma prefacture. The school then contacted 10-20 of the students they felt they could trust (that would include me and my ragtag team of course) and asked them for their help. We accepted and took the opportunity to really enjoy some time out of Tokyo and to talk with some genuine high school students.
Some of our main responsibilities would be to asisst the students with their English, run different games, eat with them while having conversations in English, and help them with different camp exercises over the 3 days. To begin the long weekend, we met at a station near the school where 5 or so large chartered buses were waiting to pick us up. Gunma is far to the north of Tokyo so it's a long 6 hour drive through freeways and mountain roads.
Enterting the freeway in far far West Tokyo. I guess the price changes depending on your size of vehicle. This bus's toll for driving to Gunma was about $100. Be really really happy that in America you don't have tolls, or if you do, they're really cheap.
Yukari joined our team for this trip. Her hometown is in Gunma so she decided to come along to help. During the ride I repeatedly asked her questions such as, "do you know here? .... how about here? no?" Turns out she doesn't know Gunma as well as she should.
They put the counselors at the front of the bus far away from the students, obviously for our safety. Sitting in the bus wasn't too bad but reports from my teammates in other buses were much worse. Aparently, even for 6 hours straight, high schoolgirls never shutup with the high-pitch screaming over really stupid road games.
After the first 2 hours we took a pit stop at a large parking area somewhere in Saitama north of Tokyo and ran across these guys. I always love an opportunity to run into Lambos and Ferraris. I really want to know what these people do for a living so I can get into it.
It feels great to get out of Tokyo. I'm sure you're all thinking it'd be great to come to Japan and it'd be crazy to hate a town as advanced as Tokyo...but..Tokyo is very condensed, all the time. It gets to you after awhile and you forget what it's like to be in a big open skied area. Feels great let me tell you.
Man we were so surprised to find such delicious spicy hot dogs out here in the middle of nowhere. I mean, just look at how happy Ryan looks on the right.
Back on the road. If you read real close, you can see this is the exit for Mt.Myogi, which is your a nerd and watch Initial D, means something. In January sometime I will come back to Gunma in my own car to tour different famous touges, such as Myogi.
Outside of Tokyo, the landscapes are amazingly beautiful. I was really impressed with the nature and the natural beauty of just middle of nowhere places throughout our drive.
Also very pretty, passing a small town.
Here we are at the 2nd pit stop deeper in Gunma after 4 hours. Aparently these guys having nothing better to do but drive their super expensive supercars around the freeways.
I thought this sign was rather dumb. I could only imagine someone driving past it and thinking "Oh dang it! I'm going the wrong direction, what have I been doing all this time! How did I not see the hundreds of large signs before this telling me what towns this road went to?!"
Again, just amazingly beautiful. The mountains in Japan jolt up much more violently then mountains in California.
This signs reads "be cautious of animals" and depicts a monkey. That means that sometime in the past, they've experienced problems with people running their cars into wild monkies.
Here we are in the very last leg of the trip working our way through mountain roads near north Gunma. We're so far out, most of our phones aren't even working.
Finally we made it. This is the view from our room. The view went on for miles and miles, or kilometers, whatever, the metric system is stupid and only retards use it. To the right, there is a volcano just hanging out doing nothing. With the amount of volcanos, earthquakes, and typhoons Japan has, I'm beginning to wonder why people don't just move.
In the reception area of the large dormitory building (oh yea did I mention Japanese don't know what camping is) I found this log mascot. I appreciated the fact that he was formally dressed for our arrival.
Here we are hanging out in our room. They told us to go to bed around a certain hour but we weren't having it. We decided to go outside to look around and wander through the middle-of-nowhere Gunma and see some nature. Also, on a sidednote: In our room was me, Ryan, Josh, and the unsuspecting Chris. Poor Chris didn't see it coming but, between us three, the weekend was a long gay joke of trying to get the other to see your junk and/or ass when they weren't expecting it. Unfortunately for him, he now knows what most of our genitals look like in detail.
This sign, literally says, "BEWARE OF BEARS". Are you serious? I guess bears wander the woods looking to eat people.
To refer back to the above comment about the long gay joke. This picture fits in that category. Ryan was utilizing the lavatory when me and Josh ran in to take pictures, hopefully to get him to mess up and urinate on himself. It just so happend our timing was perfect as for our flashes to go off at the exact same time, giving the effect of Ryan getting blasted from behind.
Since noone really lives out here in the far reaches of the mountains, we were able to lie down in the middle of the road to take in some night skies. Living in Tokyo, the only thing you see in the sky at night is the moon and maaaybe mars/venus, so the clear skies was a nice change of scenery.
This is the dormitory from the steps leading up to it. At night, it looked more like a locale for a good ol' serial murdering.
Josh checking to see if he has any service.
Ah the fresh morning and our whole team ready for a day full of teaching and molding the youth of Japan.
Downstairs in the lobby, some students work on a project. I walked in on the middle so I have no idea why one of them is a dead person and the other is an elephant, but they seem to be enjoying it so far be it for me to rain on their parade.
In the main assembly hall, Josh and my activity area was set up. Here is a group of students working on an activity in the same area with some other counselors from our school.
The system worked where they broke up the hundreds of students into smaller groups of 20 or 30 which then rotated throughout the large dormitory to different 2-person teams of counselors who would teach them for about a half hour. Here Josh and I are sitting waiting for our next group.
And here we are teaching away. Our activity was to make two teams where one person from each team would leave the group and we'd give the remaining members a word in English. The students then had to give the person who left the group 1-word clues to what the word is until they guessed it. It wasn't very hard to do and rather fun.
Here is another group being taught by some comrades of ours.
After lunch, we moved to a new activity where each counselor was then put in a group of 4 or 5 students. The students had to work on a 5 minute presentation in English advertising a made-up product. The next day they would compete in front of judges to win prizes. Unfortunately my team was very lazy and didn't do what they were supposed to so they horribly failed like a bunch of losers.
Hey, it's true, they are.
Here we are in the dining room. We were spread out and put in tables with Japanese students. Boy let me tell you, that was reallllly not fun. I found out many of the students were made to go to camp so it was a hit or miss whether they wanted to talk to you or not. Some students would even ignore simple small talk. To make it worse, we were forbidden from speaking Japanese, so if a student didn't have adequate English skills, it was alot of akward silence.
Here is Chris. After the mornings "festivities" in our room, he hasn't been able to shake this look from his face. No matter what door he opened or walked in/out of, he likely got mooned.
Here is the administrative staff of the high school. I thanked them for the opportunity to come and the delicious free meals. There was this one guy though.... he really loved the microphone and would yell at the students for the entire time we were eating.
Near the end of the night we headed down to the lobby for some social contact with others. You'd really be surprised the freaks immigration lets into this country. Also, for the guy who couldn't stop trying to hit on the high school girls and wearing fake Bape products, I hope you get hit by a bus. Oh, and take a shower.
This is one of the teams preparing for their presentation the next morning. I thought they should've won, and they almost did (like 2nd or 3rd place out of the whole school). They advertised a video game that was half Zelda half Mario. They actually dressed up and sword fought.
This is my team...losing. They advertised a pillow you put a CD in that'd give you good dreams. laaaaaame.
Near the end of the day and the end of the camp, they got all the students together to present the awards for the best teams. They also took all the counselors and put them in front and gave us an appreciation certificate. Very thoughtful.
After another night of shenanigans and mentally scarring Chris with our unexpected nudity (google "the helicopter" to learn how to cause blindness in your friends), we gathered in the front to return back to Tokyo in our buses.
We were all pretty tired at the end of the trip. It was way longer coming back then going there it seemed. I had alot of fun and look forward to doing it again next year! My only complaint would be that some of the counselors should have been restricted from being put in close proximity with underage girls, or even better, refused entry into the country. Immigration needs to do a better job on keeping the creepy foreigners out of here.
Everything else was awesome! Gunma is a great place, a good getaway from the busy Tokyo life. Alot more happened then what I could touch in this post though so I made a gallery for over 400 pictures of the fun we had. Check it out here. Thanks for reading!
Mason on 12.23.07 @ 01:15 PM PST [link]