As children reach their teens, summers become increasingly filled with part-time jobs, specialty camps, internships and hopefully some time to relax. Many schools now require community service hours as well. Here’s a unique camp for teens that combines education, volunteering and plenty of camp-centered fun. Best of all…it is free!
Free Summer Camp for Teens
Summer camp is an American institution. Arts and crafts, swimming, ridiculous skits, and Crazy Olympic team activities are a part of most kids’ summers. Take all those standard activities, mix in teens from English speaking countries with native Spanish teens and you have the recipe for a unique free camp in Spain sponsored by Diverbo.
Free Summer Camp? Really?
Diverbo is a full-immersion English language camp for Spanish teens, between the ages of 13-17. Most Spanish teens take English in school and feel fairly confident reading and writing. However, when it comes to hearing “Wow, that counselor is hot.” Or “You’re really dragging this morning,” the Spaniards respond with confused looks.
Diverbo looks for Anglos (English speaking teens) to come to various locations in Spain and spend a week simply talking with Spanish teenagers. The Anglos only need to pay their round trip ticket to Madrid. All meals, lodging and other expenses are paid for by Diverbo. (Well actually, those other fees are subsidized by parents sending their Spanish teens to camp!). This means teens from the USA, England, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Australia and Great Britain, get to enjoy a free week at camp in Spain.
Teen Camp in La Alberca, Spain
Our daughter had the opportunity to spend a week in La Alberca, Spain, participating in the program. The city of La Alberca is straight out of Central Casting with a picturesque 18th century village, complete with cobblestone streets, overflowing flower baskets, street vendors, a fountain in the middle of the city courtyard and the occasional donkey roaming the ancient streets. Like the city, camp cabins had old world charm, without rusty old world amenities. Each Anglo shared a room with a Spaniard to encourage constant English. Our daughter’s room was so new it still had paint smell coming from the walls, and easily equivalent to any modern 4 star hotel in the United States.
But My Teen Doesn’t Speak Spanish!
Good! Speaking even a few words of Spanish is strictly discouraged. In fact, Diverbo prefers that Anglo teens haven’t taken any Spanish classes. This program is for Spanish teens to learn English, not for Anglos to brush-up on their Spanish. The camp also has strict rules on smoking, drinking and curfews, so parents can feel comfortable their 15-year-old is not partying in the streets of Spain at night.
Wacky Camp Activities
Camp starts in the mornings in typical camp fashion with counselors yelling in megaphones, blowing whistles and blaring music. As teens came to the meeting room for breakfast, Anglos and Spaniards chat about everything from their lives at home to American pop music.
Every day Anglo teens are matched up with a Spaniard to spend an hour talking one-on-one. The Spanish teens usually display first-day jitters about their English speaking abilities. The Anglos worry they won’t have enough to talk about. What if they end up staring at each other? Horrors! All fears quickly disappear as teens sit down and start chatting about families, schools and friends. Conversation flows freely.
Our daughter was amazed to find that Spanish teens knew more about American government then she did! Lively debates about world issues and politics soon took place, with Spaniards gaining more and more confidence in their verbal abilities.
The mix of teens makes for a diverse and entertaining experience. Teens also have time to swim, sit by a smokey campfire to roast S’Mores and of course, go shopping together. Evenings are spent in large group team building activities and skits.
Our daughter went to camp prepared with a bagful of costumes. Evidently her group won the top award for Drama by incorporating a rail-thin, 6’ 7” Spanish teen wearing a “tree” costume into their routine. Sorry, no photos available! At the end of camp, a mad dash ensues to collect everyone’s e-mail addresses. Our daughter still communicates with the teens she met in Spain that week.
Diverbo offers several teen summer sessions which fill up fast! Another advantage of the camp is that in many cases, it fulfills your teen’s high school community service requirements. They easily can verify spending 50-60 hours teaching English to Spanish teens. That leaves more time for actual homework when school is back in session!
In addition to the teen program, an adult program runs year-round. My husband and I attended that program while our daughter went to the teen camp. After the camp, you can rent a car to further explore the area. Or, do like we did and take the overnight train from Madrid to Paris and continued our vacation. To find out more information about the program and to apply, the website is www.diverbo.com.