• Inspirational English

Camp Golden Gate

Camp Golden Gate is a summer camp in Varna, Bulgaria, which offers students a wide range of opportunities to develop themselves in a multicultural setting and understand the true meaning of collaboration and respect. Looking forward to the summer Vladimir Lalov, one of the founders of the camp, shares what the mission is behind Camp Golden Gate.

How did you come up with the idea of Camp Golden Gate?

The initial idea of establishing an International American Camp was set to motion by Jose Lomeli, a former Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Bulgaria. Through our life experiences we both understand the importance of education as the solid mechanism for economic and social development. With this in mind, we decided to create Camp Golden Gate, a camp that will offer students a vast of opportunities to develop themselves in a multicultural setting, allowing them to experience in an international perspective the values of: Collaboration, Creativity, Diversity, Empathy and Friendship.

Camp Golden Gate is not a replacement for formal education but a different outlet where students can have more freedom of choice and choose exactly what they want to learn and do. It is an open space where students use what they have learned in school and apply it to real life scenarios. We want every camper to develop their own point of view and to not be afraid to take challenges and to aspire to be the better than can be for themselves and for the community and societies they live in.

One of the missions of the Camp is to inspire teenagers to create and collaborate together. How do you intend to achieve it?

To start, the structure of the camp was designed in a way that organically it focuses on the core value of Team Building. In the morning, the students will be taking a course of their choice. When you give them the freedom to learn what they want they are more incline to be more engaged. In addition, the courses will be taught in an interactive learning format that encourages students to participate through a methodology that is based on discussions, conversations role-play and group exercises.

In the afternoon, the students will take part in activities that focus on their physical development, such as: yoga, beach volleyball, swimming, bowling, soccer, etc.

In the evening, the students are put in groups and given a task that must be completed in groups. Through this process they will learn that working together creates better outcomes because when you unite ideas the results are better-rounded.

Finally, the American teachers themselves are the engines that drive inspiration with their positive energy and their dedication to fuel and challenge students with new ideas and new point of views to take on new challenges. When students are inspired, working together becomes a natural process.

I believe that nowadays it is of great importance to encourage young people to be more tolerant, especially when students from different countries and cultures get together. How do you intend to teach your “guests” to embrace their differences and learn from each other?

I believe that tolerance or embracing others’ differences is not a process of teaching. It is a matter of acceptance that evolves through different variables. Camp Golden Gate sets the tone of tolerance and diversity by fostering friendship through a natural and not competitive setting that allows students to know the person in a deeper and real way through dynamic and interactive activities that are driven by passion and positive energy by the American Teachers. In a sense, the American teachers, which have a lot of personal experience with diversity and multiculturalism become the driven force to point the students the benefits of being open-minded and learning from others.

At Camp Golden Gate students will get the opportunity to get out of their comfort zone. Judging by my own experience, it could be quite a challenge especially for shy young learners. How will you tackle such problems?

From personal experience, shy students thrive on the summer camps with models like the one Camp Golden Gate offers because the core of the camp is to encourage inclusion. Everyone is given the opportunity to participate. The Team emphasizes through all the activities and courses to all campers that expressing their own voice is welcome all the time, and that judging others is not part our values. Also, through the Team Building activities, students learn valuable lessons that make them realize that team input is fundamental to overcome failure. What is important is the process not the outcome.

The X Factor Bulgaria runner-up Bogomil Bonev has created a theme song of Camp Golden Gate - "Passion led us Here".

Finally, where can teachers and students find more information about the camp?

They can find a very detailed information about the structure of the camp on our website – We also encourage everyone to contact us and with any specific questions they might actually have. Our friendly staff is here to help and answer all the questions.

You can read the whole interview with Vladimir Lalov in the April issue of "Inspirational English".

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