When I graduated from university last year, I wanted to travel, learn about a different culture, have fun and make a difference at the same time. The problem I faced was that I was in a brilliant job that I loved and didn’t want to have to leave and I had nobody to go with. This is when I found Camp Thailand and realised that it was the perfect combination of everything I wanted to do.
Camp Thailand is a 3 week programme (with an additional week island hopping if you wish) that provides the opportunity to teach English to children in schools and at summer camps, look after formerly mistreated elephants and have the time of your life embracing Thai culture, activities and night life.
Should you do it? YES. Don’t hesitate, jump in. Here is a little taster of why you should…
As you’ll see in my previous blogs, I visited Thailand last year and went to Phuket and Koh Samui, so I decided to sign up for a few weeks in the Tropical Jungle this time in Chiang Mai at Camp C. I thought I couldn’t fall in love with the country any more and I was so wrong – Chiang Mai completely stole my heart! Protected by lush greenery, it boasts stunning temples with intricate architecture and colours of gold, red and green and is home to many of my favourite animals in the world, elephants.
With Camp Thailand we spent the first two nights in Bangkok, two weeks in Chiang Mai and five days on a mini-break down in Cha-Am. I had the time of my life.
After arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, we were taken to a lovely little hotel where we met our camp mates (almost 70 of us!) and we all went out for dinner to bond. The next day we went on the Bangkok tour (which is optional, but I highly recommend it!) which included visiting temples, tuk tuk rides, a river tour and learning about Thai culture. I don’t want to spoil the tour, because you have to do it for yourself but it’s amazing! At night we got a 13 hour sleeper train down to Chiang Mai – you’d think it was horrible as it doesn’t sound the most pleasant, but trust me it was so enjoyable with new friends, a bed to sleep on, lots of munchies, a cafe on the train and plugs to charge phones (a necessity – OBV!).
Everything from the accommodation to the activities in Chiang Mai was amazing and I can’t recommend Camp C enough. I had a fantastic and life changing experience teaching monks and Thai children English and enjoying dances, songs and games with them. I had the time of my life at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai which I will post a separate blog about in the next few days, because I feel so passionate about saving and helping these beautiful creatures and the nature park rescues formerly mistreated and abused elephants and takes care of them. Their aim is to eventually make all trekking camps conservation parks for tourists to look after the animals instead of riding them. When we weren’t teaching, the activities that were included were really eye opening such as visiting a local orphanage and taking the kids ice skating and to the soft play. It really made me realise what I have and what I take for granted when I saw how they were living, and how happy they were with the small things in life. My Camp gave them enough money to buy a mattress for each of the children and the couple who look after them which was a really emotional experience but worthwhile and I was so proud of us all for making a difference to the childrens’ lives. We also had so much fun at a pool party, bamboo rafting, trying Muay Thai boxing, visiting temples and having nights out such as karaoke, quiz nights and the cabaret! The reps were great at organising activities for us and when we had free days, zip-lining, quad biking, waterfalls and bungee jumping were all available for us to do! I absolutely loved Chiang Mai and would recommend it to anyone.
After 2 weeks in Chiang Mai we travelled on a coach down to Cha-Am for our (well deserved!) mini break which involved visiting a Monkey Temple, having a beach day, spending a day with the elephants and other animals at the Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand and a day of fun and splashing at the Santorini Waterpark!
Camp Thailand gave me the opportunity to work with children and make a real positive difference to their lives, care for formerly mistreated elephants, have so much fun and make friends for life. I really have met some amazing people that I can’t wait to keep in touch with and anyone thinking of applying for camp, stop thinking… DO IT.
I can’t wait to go back to Thailand.