The first rule of Spanish Immersion Camp is – no English. Spanish teacher Shirlene Groseclose, inspired by camps she attends each year, began the Pocahontas County Spanish Immersion Camp for Spanish I and II students.
“We had a blast,” she said. “We had plenty of activities. We divided up into groups – into families – and made fiesta flowers, tortillas and self-portraits. We rotated that around three times until they each went through and got to do everything.”
The self-portraits were inspired by Mexican artist Frida Kahlo who is known for her own self-portraits.
At lunch, the students used their own tortillas to make chimichangas.
“We laid out the ingredients to make chicken chimichangas,” Groseclose said. “We showed them how to mix it and then they got to mix their own.”
The afternoon was full of more activities, including a scavenger hunt, piñata and traditional tomatina.
“We ended the day with the tomatina,” Groseclose said. “The tomatina fight is a Spanish fight where they throw tomatoes at each other. Obviously, we didn’t do it with real tomatoes. I brought red water balloons, so we had a tomatina fight with water balloons.”
This was the first year for what Groseclose hopes will become an annual immersion camp. She received a Snowshoe Foundation grant to fund the event.
“I’m hoping for next year to have a day-and-a-half because could have easily gone another day,” she said. “When I go to the immersion camp I do, it’s seven days. One or two days the kids are speaking English, but by the sixth and seventh day, they are completely into it. At least [my kids] got to hear Spanish and participate in activities. It was just a really wonderful experience.”
The camp, held at the Ambassadors For Christ Campground, exposed students to the cultures and people of several Spanish speaking countries, including Nicaragua, Mexico, Spain and Peru.
Groseclose was helped by Green Bank Elementary-Middle School science teacher Anne Smith, Pocahontas County High School English teacher Stephanie Poppe, Peru-native and AmeriCorps Grazia Apolinares, Vaughn Judson and Laura Dean Bennett.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org