I fondly remember the first camp I attended as a kid. It wasn't in a jungle as I visualized and hoped it to be. Clad in our green and yellow uniform, my co-scouts and I stayed inside the school grounds for two days. During that camp, we bonded, played, and basically did all the things we could only dream about during a regular school day. Though the camp wasn't held in the mountains, or at least somewhere outdoors, the thought that for a day I'd stay in school, tend for myself, and roast marshmallows in an actual bonfire was already good enough for me.
Last week, my 8 year old sister Audrey reached that same milestone in her life and finally had her first ever camp experience.
The package rates begin at P7,500++ (for one child; +P3,400 for additional child). Included in the package is an overnight stay for the rest of the family in a Superior Room and the usual breakfast for two at Heat restaurant.
The event started off with farewells. In order for the kids to experience independence in the camp, parents were requested to leave their children with the facilitators and marshals for the entire day. My parents had nothing to worry about. Aside from visible enough marshals, hotel nannies, and a teacher for the group, security personnel were also nearby and they made sure every kid was accounted for. I was allowed to stay and observe every now and then.
Some parents had it easy. Some lingered. But based on my observation all the kids were eager to be left to themselves. Hmm... makes me remember how much I wanted 'freedom,' too, back then!
Once left among themselves (of course still with the facilitator and marshals), they started on with the introductions. Obviously, a lot were still painfully shy, including my sister. Good thing they were made to participate in ice-breaker games right away. After the first game? All the ice have obviously melted. Then, the real camp began.
The items in their schedule were carefully followed. After all the getting to know you stage, they proceeded right away to their culinary experience, where a chef taught them the different ways of preparing sandwiches.
Half of the children listened to the lecture intently, half seemed a bit restless. But surely, they were all eager to get their hands on their food.
Audrey made a ham and cheese sandwich with lettuce leaves and a lot of mayo. She took small bites, but never finished it. She kept it for my mom who got to taste it that night. And the verdict? It was good! She surely learned the proper portioning.
Their lunch followed right away. I forgot to mention, all the meals of the kids are included in the package. Certainly not bad for the price, right? Audrey related later on to my parents that the food seemed never ending! "I think we ate every 10 minutes!" she exclaimed.
But the fun didn't end there. The rest of the afternoon was devoted to different activities targeted to hone the kids' talents and skills. They had an art class where they creatively designed masks and head dresses. My sister, who loves art so much, definitely enjoyed the activity. Here is she with her half-finished project.
After that, they were taught the basics of Aikido and the proper way of defending themselves. The lecture and demo was facilitated by an Aikido master. Cushions were placed to make sure no one hurts him/herself.
Audrey seemed to be having a hell of a time but it isn't only she who was enjoying. The rest of the family was upstairs relaxing in the comfort of the room provided. Another bonus in the packaged is that the kids' parents get discounts in Chi Spa. My parents however chose to stay in the room to lounge around and relax.
The view from our room.
A dozen of games and meals after, it was finally time for the highlight of the night: the bonfire! After their dinner, the kids made their way to the poolside to gather around for that good old camp tradition.
By 8 o'clock, kids were picked up by their parents to wash up. Then, they went down again for some milk and cookies. I thought that they'd mellow down after an entire day of playing but wow, they sure didn't! I could only guess how hard was it for the marshals and facilitators to get them to rest.
By around 10:30 the next morning, parents were invited to the 'graduation,' where kids showcased a little presentation. It was obvious that by that time, the children have already bonded and formed new friendships. After the ceremony, where they were given certificates and loot bags, they were officially free to join their family.
The blissful look on her face on our way home was priceless. She tried to cram all of her experiences and relate it to us in one sitting. She was so happy, she even mentioned that she wanted to go back again! I could tell that the entire family enjoyed, but I guess it wouldn't amount to the enjoyment my little sister felt that moment.
A few years in the future, she'll surely look back into this moment. I'm glad she now has an interesting story to tell, especially to her classmates once her school starts.
The Edsa Shangri-La Kiddie Camp will hold sessions on April 24 to 26, May 8 to May 10 and May 22 to 24. Limited slots only per session. For inquiries or reservations, please call Edsa Shangri-La’s Events Management at 633-8888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.