English Activity Camps on an Island - Volunteer Reviews

THAILAND

Read what our volunteers say about their time volunteering

Find out more about the English Activity Camps on an Island project

Kerry - 2014

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the English Summer Camp in Thailand, and would strongly recommend it to anyone. I was worried that my lack of experience teaching, and being the baby of the group, would make the project difficult, but the help from Gemma and the rest of the group ensured we all felt confident in what we were doing. The project was great for first time travellers who don't want to do it completely alone. I felt safe the entire time, and as though I was seeing the real side of Thailand off the typical tourist track. I made some amazing friends, and had some great experiences that I won't forget for a long time.

How would you describe a typical day volunteering on the Summer Camp in Thailand with Pod? A typical day at the project would involve us waking up at around 7am, and leaving for the camp at 7.30. We would then have a traditional Thai breakfast at school, and then a welcome ceremony at the school which would include different aspects of Thai culture, such as dancing. We then divided into our teaching groups and that would begin the teaching for the day. We generally taught groups of 30 or so kids, and had 4 groups throughout the day. A day off school typically ended with fun games for the kids such as tug-of-war or egg and spoon races (which we all loved to get involved in), at about 4 o'clock. We then headed back to our resort where we'd get dinner and have some free time to chill out, or we'd have an activity that Gemma had arranged such as visiting temples. Afterwards it was bedtime, which we were usually happy to see after a long tiring day of teaching!

What did you find most rewarding? The homestay was very rewarding as we got to see first hand how a traditional Thai family live. It was also very rewarding hearing the kids speaking the English we had taught them that day, and seeing how excited they were to see us each day, and how much they appreciated us being there.

What did you find most challenging? The heat was quite challenging and definitely very draining, and so to keep going it was so important to drink lots of water.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Go out open minded and try not to think of the project as a holiday, as it is hard work.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Volunteering abroad not only allows you to enrich others' lives, but to enrich your own. The experiences I had were intensified not only by the beauty of Thailand itself, but by the generosity and welcoming nature of the Thai people.

Why did you choose Pod? I chose Pod as it was a non profit organisation, and I liked the structure of their programmes. I would happily do another project with Pod as the communication and organisation of the project was exactly what I wanted.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Sophia - 2014

“Volunteering for the summer camp projects was an enlightening experience. I've taught before, but this was entirely different, and a wonderful challenge. Volunteering definitely teaches a person a lot about themselves, and pushes you to excel outside of your comfort zone.

More than anything, the summer camp project was rewarding because of its genuine value. It was immediately apparent how much the children were benefitting from lessons, and general exposure to the English language. What's more, it was wonderful and unique to be treated at each school and by children, parents, and teachers with such respect and gratitude.

I have gained something very special from volunteering with Pod. I'm very glad to have come across the project, and to have taken part, because I feel it has opened my eyes in a way that few other things can.

How would you describe a typical day at the Summer Camp in Thailand? Wake up around 6:30am, get dressed and put on lots of sun screen. Travel in a mini van to the school, and have a lovely Thai breakfast and very sweet coffee to keep you alert. Then we proceeded to our assigned classrooms and taught four sets of students. Next, we would have the lunchtime feast, including lots of rice and fruit. Afterwards, back to the classrooms to teach another four sets of classes. Then all the students would get together for a final fun activity (tug-of-war or egg-and-spoon race) and then the volunteers would head to do a bit of sightseeing or go back to the accommodation for some coca colas and dinner. After that, relaxation and early bed time to be ready for another day of teaching.

What did you find most rewarding? The most rewarding things about the project are gaining a newfound confidence from teaching, and seeing just how much of a difference your involvement makes. You really can tell how happy the students are to meet you, and by the end of class they all want to shake your hand and take photos with you. It was wonderful to be appreciated by everyone at the schools, and their kindness was very humbling.

What did you find most challenging? Teaching really does wear you out, especially in the heat and humidity of Thailand. You need to accept that you might be drenched with sweat and falling asleep by the end of the school day, but that makes dinnertime and relaxation all the more rewarding.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? I'd advise those considering this placement to go ahead and sign up! Whether you're travelling alone, or with friends, sign up and you can be sure of an educational and valuable two weeks. I'm so glad I went ahead with this placement, because I've come away from it as a more developed person, and with a thirst to keep on volunteering.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Volunteering abroad pushes you, to try new things, to challenge yourself, to exposure yourself to things you would never have encountered if you'd stayed at home on the sofa. I think it is an incredibly humbling thing to do, and it's perfect for character development.

Volunteering is also the best means of travelling, as you get to experience the country you are in authentically, and that is something few tourists are able to do. It's very valuable to see the true soul of a place, rather than it's commercialised boundaries.

Why did you choose Pod? I chose Pod because it seemed like a genuine association, dedicated to the humanitarian causes of its projects. Also, the overwhelming amount of positive reviews from past volunteers made everything feel secure and worthwhile.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Rachel - 2014

“The project we worked at was fantastic and it was made even better by having such a supportive leader who was so knowledgeable of the area. Furthermore, we had great accommodation and value for money was great, it was great that having Thai contacts we were able to safely save money on food for example at the markets.

The Summer Camp is an amazing experience, and definitely one suitable for the first time traveling alone. Thailand had become a popular tourist resort, but until you take an amazing trip like this I don't think its possible to see the real place. I was so lucky to be able to meet children and teachers from the schools in Thailand and teach them English, they all treated me with respect and also were so excited to learn and hear English speakers.

Furthermore, due to the nature of the trip I also had the experience of watching traditional performances from the students during opening and closing ceremonies. This trip is so worth going on as you have someone from Pod who is always there for support and guidance yet we're still allowed to teach how we feel fit. Also we were able to travel around Thailand and explore different areas that tourists would probably not normally see. I would definitely recommend this trip!!

How would you describe a typical day volunteering on the Summer English Camp? We would get up around 7 and leave by 7:30. Arriving at the schools were always exciting as they laid on breakfast! Sticky rice is definitely a favourite. Then we would either have an opening ceremony (or not if it was the second day of the camp) and then start teaching. We all had 3 topics each which we taught 4 times. And then one final session for the second day afternoon which consisted of some sport or something we're passionate about. Through the day we would get a break (sometimes a snack) and lunch. We would finish at around 4 and then enjoy the evening with free time.

What did you find most rewarding? I found the language barriers very challenging but as I learnt to communicate in other ways I found it the most rewarding. I also feel that staying at the homestay was amazing and rewarding.

What did you find most challenging? Probably the language barriers.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Don't be worried about food or toilets! Yes sometimes the food can be interesting but just try it!! You might never have the chance again. Toilets are also not great, but embrace the culture.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? You're changing lives, and you're changing your life. What more could you want?

Why did you choose Pod? Pod seemed so personal and friendly. And they have the right work/play balance!

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Shauna - 2014

“I would highly recommend this project to anyone who is up for a challenge and willing to experience something completely different to every day life back home… From arrival at the airport I felt very welcomed (especially by Gemma who couldn’t have done a better job throughout the whole project) and my nerves disappeared as soon as I met the team. The majority of the people there were in the same boat as me (never done anything like this before, first time in Thailand etc)…which was very settling and made me feel more comfortable.

How would you describe your time volunteering on the Summer English Camp in Thailand? In the first week we stayed in a lovely hotel resort in Don Sak and ventured out on several trips to temples, night markets, shopping centres etc before we prepared our classes for the schools. We were put into small groups where we shared ideas and gathered resources to plan fun and interesting games/activities for the children.

For the majority of the time in Thailand we then stayed in a tropical resort close to the schools, which was very peaceful with amazing sceneries. We stayed in large wooden huts in small groups which were very clean and definitely gave you that extra cultural feel of Thailand!

The staff and food there was amazing and the people we met couldn’t have done more than enough for you. The teachers put together dinner/karaoke nights on a few evenings where we danced and sang our hearts out (terribly)

We visited 3 schools over the two week period where we spent 2 days at each. The teachers and children couldn’t have been anymore welcoming and we definitely felt like royalty! We would arrive at 8am each day and finish around 3pm with every school preparing breakfast and lunch (lots of rice, Pad Thai, fish etc). There was more than enough for everyone and always something new to try. Overall this experience has certainly been very challenging and tiring at times but worth every minute! It had definitley inspired me to travel more and has opened my eyes to other volunteering opportunities.

What did you find most rewarding? This was my first experience in Thailand and I am glad that I got to the see the more cultural side of Thailand as a first time experience (especially staying with the Thai family). The children were amazing to be around and it certainly feels rewarding when you’ve known you’ve given them that extra bit of help and hearing them repeat words/phrases you've taught them which will be a big help for their futures!

What did you find most challenging? The most challenging was ensuring that the children were constantly motivated and that they understood what they were learning. As it was my first time teaching it was quite a challenge trying to interact with the children at first and trying to get them to understand some activies or phrases. I soon learnt what worked well with the chidren and what didn't and ensured certain things were inputted to the next class e.g. using several hand signals, talking more slowly etc.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? If you are considering doing this placement I would advise for you to apply straight away and not have any second thoughts!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? I had never thought about volunteering initially until I came across this Summer Camp online and I wanted something challenging and rewardful during my time travelling across Australia/Thailand. This project kept me very busy and completed took me by suprise as to how organised it was and how I felt very comfortable and safe during the two weeks. I have also met some lovely people and will definitley stay in touch with them..

Why did you choose Pod? I chose Pod as I was looking for a 2 weeks placement and the reviews were very good. I looked at the itinerary and the set out of the two weeks really appealed to me.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes"

Daniel - 2014

“After returning from Thailand having taken part in the 2 week English Summer Camp, I can safely say that the holiday blues have well and truly set in! From the lively jungle to the golden beaches of Samui, and from the most pleasant and obedient children to the best group of teachers you could ask for, everything about the Summer Camp was fantastic and I would recommend anyone to do it! If you’re a boy don't be put off by the fact that you might be a bit outnumbered, I was the only boy in my group but it never affected my experience in the slightest.

How would you desribe a typical day volunteering at the Summer English Camp in Thailand? Wake up 7am, head to school around 8/8.30, get served a traditional breakfast, teach for 1-2 hours, have local cuisine for lunch, teach again for 1-2 hours then head back to the accommodation and talk about the day with your fellow teachers over a drink or two and some food!

What did you find most rewarding? Being able to teach the children basic English whilst having fun, putting smiles on their faces.

What did you find most challenging? Planning the lessons

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Enjoy every second of it because it flies by far too fast! Also try to learn some basic Thai phrases, it helps alot.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It helps you understand different cultures whilst also giving great experience. The home stay aspect of the placement really helps you appreciate what you have back home.

Why did you choose Pod? Having done research on several different volunteering companies I believed POD to be most genuine, literally spending almost every penny on donations.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Chloe - 2014

“Back in February when I booked to go on the Thailand English Summer Camp programme I was really excited. Then as the time got closer (and it happened real quick) I became more and more nervous and slightly terrified. Why? Absolutely no idea, as I now know that volunteering in Thailand with Pod was the best decision I ever made! I wish I was back there now. I made some amazing new friends, not only in Pod Team 2014 but also in the Thai people that we met while we were out there, the family I stayed with (who have invited us back if we ever find ourselves back in Thailand) and the children- the reason why we all chose to volunteer with Pod in the first place.

The children were amazing. They were so eager to learn and engaged in every activity we threw at them and even taught us a few phrases in return. The 7am wake ups were all worth while when we were greeted with their smiling faces every morning. As well as teaching we were thrown in to the Thai culture, learning a few key phrases and putting them to good use at the night markets, learning about traditions and visiting beautiful temples (one of which was surrounded by monkeys!) The Thai food was 'aroy' (delicious) and we felt so welcome wherever we went. Gemma was absolutely fab. She was so helpful, before, during and after the placement and organised some really exciting trips for us!

Would I recommend the Summer English Camp? A thousand times, Yes! You will have the experience of a lifetime.

How would you describe a typical day volunteering on the Summer Camp in Thailand? A typical camp day included a fairly early morning, travelling to school and the warmest of welcomes from each of the schools that we worked at. Although we were only at each school for just two days they held an opening and closing ceremony for us! Breakfast was served at school and then the fun began. We worked in teams to teach a topic in the morning and then another in the afternoon after a traditional Thai lunch (rice)! The children were awesome. They loved every activity we did with them and no matter how hot or tired we were, their enthusiasm spurred us on! Over two days they learned so much, we were sad to leave at the end of it. After some hilarious and competitive games of Egg and Spoon, Under Over and Tug of War, school finished around half three and then it was back to the hotel to chill out with the Pod team with some food and drinks or to the homestay which was amazing. Our families made us feel so welcome and comfortable. Everyday was different but undoubtedly brilliant.

What did you find most rewarding? The entire experience was amazing. The children and families we met were so kind and welcoming. Our homestay family even took us to market with them at 5am to make the most incredible sticky pork for lunch at school. I never would have done that at home! Seeing the children learn something new from us was great. Knowing that in some small way we have contributed to their future was really rewarding. It was really humbling to see how different their lives are and how happy they all are. Meeting and working with a fantastic group of volunteers was awesome, everyone pulled together as a team and made sure everyone had a great time.

What did you find most challenging? The heat was tough- top tip from Gemma at the beginning of the placement- drink drink drink (water!) I've never been so grateful for a luke warm shower!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Do it! If you love teaching, working with people and experiencing different cultures you will really enjoy this placement. You will experience something incredible that not many people visiting the 'touristy' parts of Thailand will ever know.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Volunteering abroad is an amazing opportunity to see another part of the world while doing something rewarding and enriching for the lives of others. Guaranteed you will leave with amazing memories and wanting more.

Why did you choose Pod? They offered great support before, during and after the placement, great value for money, had a great structure to the programme. I would definitely book another volunteer placement through Pod again.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Becky - 2014

“The English Summer Camp was such a rewarding experience, the children were so eager to learn and it was amazing to see them pick up English words and phrases through the activities we had created for them. Volunteering was a great way to see the "real" Thailand, as the schools are in Don Sak, a rural part of the country, where we also took part in a homestay which gave an insight into a traditional Thai family home and their day-to day life. Pod is an amazing charity and Gemma was so helpful throughout the placement and whilst I was organising my trip back in England. I would definitely recommend this volunteering project, as it was an amazing 2 weeks and I couldn't think of a better way to explore Thailand!!

How would you describe a typical day volunteering on the Summer Camp in Thailand? We would arrive at the school at about 8 in the morning, where we had breakfast laid on for us. We would then be allocated a place to carry out our teaching for one particular topic in the morning. After setting our lesson up, we would teach particular key words in English to 4 different groups from the school. When we finished the morning lessons, we would then have lunch, which was also provided by the school, and on a couple of school days we would visit a nearby temple and I particularly one camp day where I enjoyed seeing monkeys in their natural habitat and feeding them bananas. In the afternoon, we would then set up our lesson for the next topic and repeat the process of teaching the 4 groups through the activities we had prepared at the start of the camp. After school, we then had time to do whatever we wanted and the accommodation in Don Sak had great Thai food available which we would have later on.

What did you find most rewarding? My group chose to teach the topic of 'Family' to the Thai school children. After we taught them the key words, we got them to draw a their family tree and I found it most rewarding seeing them understand exactly what we had asked them to do and they were then able to describe their family back to us.

What did you find most challenging? Sometimes the children didn't understand the activities we were trying to make them do, so attempting to explain them in simple English was quite challenging, however we managed to overcome this by the volunteers showing them what we wanted them to do and then making them repeat it.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Definitely just go for it and don't worry about a thing! Everything is so organised and if you have any worries, Gemma is always there to help throughout the project.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It's such an amazing experience, you'll never get to do anything like it anywhere else and it's so rewarding to see that you're making a difference!

Why did you choose Pod? The website provided an excellent description of all the projects available and once applying for the placement, Gemma was so helpful and any questions were answered really quickly by email, so it seemed like a reputable organisation.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Nikki - 2014

“Pod went above and beyond my expectations and I couldn't have wished for a better volunteering experience!! Amazing!

This volunteering project was the hardest but best thing I have ever done! So rewarding since the kids are so grateful and are desperate to learn. I was so lucky that I got to share my volunteering experience with some honestly amazing people that I met out there. I really hope to volunteer again as not only did I help others, I myself changed and grew day by day, becoming more confident. It was one experience I will never forget. Thank you everyone at Pod!!

How would you describe a typical day volunteering on the Summer Camp in Thailand? Crazy! Typically got up at 6.30 on teaching days and went to the school to have breakfast. Taught the first lesson to the four groups of children, had lunch (provided by the school!) and then taught the second lesson in the afternoon. Each school had an opening and closing ceremony which just showed how grateful they were. On our days off we made resources, went to temples, saw dolphins, went to koh samui (went to a ladyboy show, fire show, beach party).

What did you find most rewarding? How much the children appreciated us teaching them and how much they learnt with us!

What did you find most challenging? The heat during the day, a lot of running around made it exhausting!

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved? No, it was incredible.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Don't go with any expectations because they will be just blown away. Go with an open mind and be willing to try things! Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It is a really rewarding experience and it gives the children so much happiness!

Why did you choose Pod? Becky (my friend)  told me about it and we just spontaneously booked it!

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Rachel - 2014

“I was unsure about volunteering, I'm 43 and thought I should be at home watching EastEnders! But how wrong was I - from start to finish Pod have been very supportive, the staff brilliant and even brought me emergency double decker when I moved on to a different pod project and met the placement coordinator for the new on!

The summer camp was amazing, well structured and gave you a real taste of Thailand and its amazing people. The home stay arranged by pod was a wonderful experience , the family didn't really have much but gave you everything. The children melted my heart ( and my double decker ) as did the country and its wonderful people. You are never too old to do something new, I have found this experience to be challenging , hot!, tiring, but mainly life enhancing, fun, rewarding and prob one of the best experiences I've ever had!!!!- switch of EastEnders and go grab the challenge!

What did you find most rewarding? The interaction with the children, thier appreciation and the people

What did you find most challenging? Coming home !

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Just do it!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Life enhancing, character building, experiencing new cultures

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Laura - 2014

“Volunteering for the Thailand summer camp was one of the best experiences of my life! Would love to do it again. Teaching the children at the schools was very rewarding because you could tell they were really keen to learn and loved having us there and it was great fun! My favourite part was the home-stay, they family I stayed with were really kind and loved having us there! It was a great experience. Met loads of great people and I am sad to be home!

How would you describe a typical day volunteering on the Summer Camp in Thailand? We would leave the hotel around 7.30 each morning to arrive at the schools around 8am. Each school we went to made is breakfast! On the first day of visiting each of the schools they had an opening ceremony, which was amazing to see the traditional thai dancing and music. The children were split into 4 teams, throughout the day the teams roated between all of the volunteers teaching subjects. At lunch they provided us with lovely traditional thai food! Teaching finished around three o'clock and to finish the day we would get all the kids together to play and activity! on the last day of each school they presented us with certificates and gifts which was really nice.

What did you find most rewarding? The children and the schools were so welcoming and the most rewarding thing was seeing how happy the kids were to learn more from us!

What did you find most challenging? The most challenging would probably be making sure they understood what we were saying!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? To 100% do it, there was nothing I didn't enjoy about doing this project.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? I think others should volunteer abroad because it is important to experience other cultures and see what they have to offer, when I went to Thailand I seen how grateful the schools were to have native English speakers to help.

Why did you choose Pod? I found the website online when looking for something to do over the summer, I thought the project looked interesting and after speaking to Gemma I decided I wanted to go for it and do it as it looked rewarding.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Connie - 2014

“The English Summer Camp was an amazing experience that I will never forget! Such a great way to see Thailand, and much more fulfilling and insightful than a typical tourist holiday. The kids and teachers at the schools were so welcoming and appreciative, the volunteers will be life long friends, and Gemma was a brilliant leader. I would recommend anyone to sign up, you won't regret it!

How would you describe a typical day on the Summer English Camp in Thailand? Every day was different, but the typical school day involved an early start, breakfast at the school, assembly, teach in groups of 3 until lunch, then finish with another 2 hours of lessons. Days off involved relaxing, visiting temples, a boat trip to see dolphins, and a weekend on Koh Samui.”

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Isla - 2013

“The experience in Thailand with Pod was incredible. The time spent teaching was an emotional and rewarding experience; the children were so friendly and had such enthusiasm! I met some amazing people out there and Gemma was really helpful and motivating during the camps and I definitely felt looked after when I was out there! I would definitely recommend this project to anyone!

How would you describe a typical day on the Summer English Camp in Thailand? The typical day at a camp was getting up at 8ish going to the school, having an amazing breakfast made for us by the school (so much sticky rice!) and then activities begin, teaching them a certain topic in English using fun games and activities. Then we would have a wonderful Thai lunch cooked for us. The afternoon the activities would start again and at the end we would play games such as tug of war or egg and spoon race to bond with the children. If it is the last day there is normally a lot of hugs and pictures which can get quite emotional. Even though you have only known the kids for 2 days you don't realise the bond you make with them! Then apart from the teaching days other activities were planned for our days off such as snorkelling, visiting markets and a cooking course. Also free time was given in the evening! Every day was different while being here and I have had amazing experiences from it!

What did you find most rewarding? I found that hearing the kids understanding and speaking the English we taught them most rewarding! Knowing that they have learnt something from us was amazing.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Because it is an once in a lifetime opportunity and it helps a lot of people!

Why did you choose Pod? Only wanted a short course and liked the way the Pod one was structured. Would definitely recommend using Pod to anyone and i would use them myself again!

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Chloe - 2013

“I had an amazing time in Thailand with Pod. The homestay was incredible, such a lovely environment to stay in with the kindest family. I had an enriching experience which has not only broadened my knowledge but also my eating palette as I was given the opportunity to try so many different things which I would never have done at home. The teaching was incredible and unlike any teaching experience I have gained in England. The children were so excited and grateful for your help that every hour felt like a minute. The only downside was how emotionally attached you became as I never wanted to leave them. Everything from start to finish was incredible and I had the fortnight of a lifetime with some amazing people. I advise everyone to do it. P.s Gemma is amazing and incredibly helpful and supportive.

How would you describe a typical day on the Summer English Camp in Thailand? Wake up in the morning and travel to school in the back of a truck (I never want to travel inside a car again). At the school you're greeted by cheering and smiling children and are then given breakfast. After this you're activities begin. The children are so excitable, they enjoy any activity you give them and put their all in. Once you have done the activity for each of the four groups you have dinner which is amazing. Thai green curry, prawns, hot and sour, soup. Amazing. Then is your next activity followed by home time. At the end of the last day of camp you are hoarded for pictures and autographs and hugs. You feel like a celebrity. Then you are left to your own devices at night unless you plan something with your team leader who has some good suggestions.

What did you find most rewarding? At the end of each camp when the children would run up to you for a hug screaming the English phrases they had learnt that day.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Don't consider it, definitely do it! Don't take a suitcase it isn't easier. Listen to Gemma she's always right.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? The most enriching experience you'll have in your lifetime. It might seem like a short time but the amount you cram into the two weeks is incredible. Not only are you in the most beautiful place but you're also aiding a community and that in itself is better than any booze holiday.

Why did you choose Pod? Offered the best projects for my price range and also offered the most support online and over the phone.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Claire - 2013

“How would you describe a typical day on the Summer English Camp in Thailand? On the summer camp there wasn't really a typical day as such. Each day was different and you just take it as it comes, new days bought new experiences. On summer camp days you would usually wake up around 7am head over to school for 8am and have breakfast with all the teachers. On the first days of each school usually a welcoming assembly and then different activities and lessons throughout the day. The school days finish around 3pm but the day just flies by when you’re enjoying it so much. On other non-camp days there were different activities planned for us, snorkelling, trips to beaches and temples, local markets etc. So every day you weren't able to predict what was going to happen but it was always an experience.

What did you find most rewarding? The most rewarding was seeing the kids after one of the summer camps, the children were very grateful and thanking us and taking lots of photos. It was rewarding to see how attached they became to us and how much they had learnt in such a short space of time, it is great to see how much difference just a few days teaching can make.

What did you find most challenging? Most challenging was probably the food or the heat when working in a school. I'm not particularly adventurous with food but by the end of the project I was willing to try anything, the food at school is different to what you can try in a restaurant but there was always something that you could fill up on, and the fruit was always amazing, As with the heat it takes getting used to when you have to teach in it and it really does take it out of you, so after drinking plenty of water it usually helped to cool down a fraction. But after a long hot day at school you usually get a chance to relax at night, so it's all definitely worth it.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? I would advise others to not have any pre-conceptions and just take every day as it comes. I wasn't expecting anything in particular on arrival and it was great to be surprised by everything. I would definitely recommend taking plenty of mosquito repellent and then plenty of bite cream, it seems no amount of repellent will keep them away but it's worth a try. I also recommend taking a back pack as I think using a suitcase was a nightmare and next time I will definitely pack a little lighter.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? I think it's a great experience and definitely worth it. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Thailand and would do the project again in a heartbeat.

Why did you choose Pod? After researching other volunteer companies I liked Pod better, the website was very informative and helpful with feedback from other volunteers. And Gemma was very helpful.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes. Thank you for an amazing few weeks I’d definitely do it again.”

Kim - 2013

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Thailand with Pod, I can't find any fault. I wasn't looking forward to the mainland stay at all but was totally surprised, the time at the homestay was fantastic and the family are so welcoming. It's a great start for people who are wanting to travel/volunteer that want to test the water. Take me back!

What did you find most rewarding? The children and staff being so appreciative of us being there, the children wanting to remember us, them recalling what we'd taught then.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It's a fantastic beginners experience, the rewards outweigh any challengers and is totally worth it!

Why did you choose Pod? Liked the program and the way it was structured.

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes"

Lucy - 2013

“The time spent in the camp was such a rewarding and exciting experience. The welcome we received from teachers from all schools and the attitudes from all children showed just how grateful and appreciative they all were. This is definitely an experience (an emotional one if that!) that I would recommend!

How you describe a typical day on the Summer English Camp in Thailand? We would arrive at school around 8am and receive breakfast at the school. We would then teach a morning session before stopping for lunch. We would then carry out our afternoon session before playing games with the children or being shown a performance which the schools had artistically crafted.

What did you find most rewarding? Teaching in all schools and seeing the response and enthusiasm.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It's a fantastic experience and a chance to see other countries and help others.

Why did you choose Pod? It was a good balance between seeing a country exploring the culture of it and teaching

Would you recommend Pod to your friends? Yes”

Charley - 2012

"I really had the most amazing two weeks on the Summer English Camp! Pod organised the whole trip so well, and I felt really looked after throughout my time in Thailand by Gemma! Everyday was completely different, which made it so fun. The best part of the trip was definitely the teaching which I was really worried about before I left, but as the children's level of English was so low it was really easy and was really just playing games involving English words! Also all the students were so caring and had so much respect for all the Pod people, it made us all feel so welcome! Even on the days where we weren't teaching there was so much organised like cooking courses and trips to beautiful beaches! It was just such a fantastic experience and really lets you see the 'real' Thailand, not just from the perspective of a tourist! I had such a fantastic time and really recommend it to anyone who loves to travel!

At the end of each camp, you really realised how valuable it was for the children to have us teach them. It was very sad to say bye to them all and really made me feel like I could and should be doing so much more to help!

Why did you choose Pod? It was very highly recommended to me by a friend!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? I would just say go for it, and just really really enjoy yourself, because it is just such an amazing experience there is no point not doing everything you possibly can!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Volunteering is rewarding as it allows you to give something back to other people that is invaluable, it also allows you to experience the country you go to from a point of view no tourist could ever get!"

Jenny - 2012

"The summer camp in Thailand is a fantastic project to take part in. I gained a deeper understanding and respect for Thai culture and the children in school were so happy and keen to develop their English speaking skills. Gemma is a fantastic camp leader, giving great advice on everything from teaching to helping me arrange 2 weeks 'travelling' Thailand after the camp. Eui was also fantastic and very good for translating Thai to English for us! Loved every second of this project and made some life long friends. Thank you POD!

Gemma was fantastic throughout the project. I had a few 'medical' issues and she really looked after me and gave me good advice. Gemma also helped me plan 2 weeks travelling that I am doing after the project. She was very good at making everyone feel safe and well looked after. Also a great mentor for teaching in the camps! Couldn't have asked for more from her!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Only do this placement if you are dedicated to the project aims-teaching Thai children English. Although we did relax, this project is a lot of hard work.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It opens your eyes to a completely different culture, you make friends for life and is great for building confidence.

Some days were spent learning about Thai culture, visiting temples and cooking Thai food. Teaching days were tough, but very rewarding. Relaxing days on the beach were lovely! Gemma was great with supporting us all emotionally throughout the project. It opens your eyes to a completely different culture, you make friends for life and is great for building confidence."

Jessica - 2012

"To look at our photos, one would think that we all travelled together and had known each other for years. It is safe to say that we have Pod to thank for making us feel all welcome. From the minute we signed on we were in regular contact with the Pod team, who were ready to answer any questions - even the littlest, silliest of things. From the get go we were supplied with activities to learn more about the area and culture, which you would probably miss if you travelled on your average tourist holiday. Yes it may get on your nerves after teaching 'head, shoulders, knees and toes' a million times but when you hear them practising whilst brushing their teeth at the homestay, you cannot help but smile. It really helped to establish what goals I want to achieve in the future and cemented the fact that I really do love to teach. This is a good thumbs up if you're about to dedicate 3 years to teacher training!

There's no typical day on this trip! The camps do have a schedule but with different children each times, its always so different, and that's what made it so exciting! Its an early wakeup and into the pickup, stop off for snacks at stamps at the supermarket and off to the school/police station where the camp is being held (dont make the mistake I made by telling my parents I'm exhausted from being at the police station all morning!). You are in you're group of three and teach a topic to 4 different groups, break for lunch and teach your next topic. Overall you end up teaching 3 different topics to 3 different camps. You return feel tired so we all usually have a little nap, on the beach or in the room. Then meet up for the either the night activity or to decide where to go, depending on the next day activities!

What did you find most challenging? The heat would be the hardest. Although I live in the Middle East, I've pretty spoilt with the A/C lifestyle we have in the summer. When you're out in the sun and children cheekily going off to practise a bit of muay thai you just have to remind yourself of the difference you're making and be conscious of how much water you are drinking!

Were there any aspects of the placement which you would like to see improved? I as thoroughly impressed with the placement and service that comes with it. I've already had enquiries from friends about it and I've recommended it to all. Strangers in the street should walk near me cautiously as I can't stop talking how amazing this once-in a lifetime experience was!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Go in with an open mind.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Because it is truly eye opening and heart-warming. To get to meet all these different people and hear the stories they have to tell is inspirational.

Why did you choose Pod? A charitable, non-profiting organisation was important. I contacted people that were on the trip before and they were all bursting with good recommendations, and it’s very clear why!"

James - 2012

"Doing Pod was certainly one of the most worthwhile and fulfilling things I have ever done. Being my first trip out of Europe it was great having a set schedule provided by Pod, with every activity being great fun and being a fantastic experience. The places we stayed at on our time away were fantastic, with everyone we met being friendly and making me feel right at home. Although the summer camps are by no means easy work, the relaxation time you get is just that, and it didn't for one moment feel like I was doing any work, I enjoyed every minute and would definitely do it all over again.

What did you find most rewarding? Kids recalling English you taught them was great.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Don't worry about anything and just go with it, you'll enjoy it far more.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It's definitely opened my eyes in terms of what there is outside of the western world, and aspects such visiting the temples is a once in the lifetime experience that you wouldn't necessarily get to experience as a regular backpacker/tourist.

Why did you choose Pod? Had a good feel about it, very professional set up and talked you through any worries you may have."

Claire - 2012

"The summer camp was an amazing experience! It was well organised from start to finish and the support received from the Pod team was excellent. I would recommend this experience to anyone who is interested in working with children. It gave me a good insight into teaching English as a foreign language and has given me the confidence to travel further afield.

This placement is a good experience for those considering teaching and for teachers considering working abroad.

Why did you choose Pod? Well established company, non-profit organisation.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Book it!"

Liam - 2012

“A fantastic cultural and eye opening experience. Very well organised by the pod team, leaving you with plenty of freedom to enjoy the trip! Would definitely recommend this to anybody of any age!

Please describe a typical day at the project. Dependent on the time of the week, you could be volunteering with the rest of your group members for a large part of the day - which is a very rewarding experience, or you could be relaxing and immersing yourself in the culture of the area whilst getting to know all the volunteers out with you.

What did you find most rewarding? The clearly thankful children sending you off in style after you've worked at the camp with them for a couple of days and made some good friends at the same time!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It's a fantastic way of meeting new people and seeing more of the world. It also represents a great opportunity to experience a working environment that you'll likely never be involved in again.

Why did you choose Pod? Having discovered the charity through a university careers fair and doing some background research it appeared to be an incredibly well run and thoroughly enjoyable team to join for volunteering.”

Rose - 2012

"It was such a good experience, really well organised and I felt like we got loads out of the two weeks.  Every day was different! I enjoyed it for that though.

The children really seemed to enjoy the activities and were interested and eager to learn. It was sometimes challenging to assess the children's understanding of English in the short teaching sessions and then alter the activities to make sure they were pitched at the right level. If your happy to try new things, have lots of energy and like working with children then you should go for it.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Because it's really fun and gives you a much more interesting experience than just visiting a country as a tourist."

Hannah - 2011

“I found the whole experience absolutely amazing! I really enjoyed teaching at the summer camps and the children were adorable. The schools were very appreciative and it was great to see the children having so much fun! It was fantastic to meet like minded people and alongside the teaching there was the opportunity to see and experience new things such as swimming in rivers and waterfalls! The two weeks was the perfect combination of teaching, relaxing and seeing and experiencing Thai culture. At the camps the schools were keen to share their traditions so children from the school put on performances of traditional dancing or Thai boxing. The whole placement was extremely well organised and for those that are interested in giving something back whilst having a lot of fun I would definitely recommend it.

I found the most challenging element the homestay. Although it was challenging due to being in new surroundings of someone's family it was without a doubt one of the most memorable highlights of the project and I am so pleased it was included. By the second night you started to feel like you were becoming part of the family and the families were all very welcoming and were keen to show volunteers a different side of living in Thailand away from the tourist areas.

The teaching was the most rewarding part of the project. It was fantastic to see the children enjoying themselves and a great feeling to know that you are making a difference when you see the children making progress with their English.

My advice would be to embrace every opportunity as you are unlikely to experience anything like it again. Be prepared to work hard to ensure that the summer camps are a success and the children have an amazing time. It is so much fun and you get so much more out of volunteering than you would a standard holiday. I would also say that if you have the time I recommend staying a little longer in Thailand to travel after the project as you won't want to leave!

I chose Pod because the project suited me perfectly for my first time travelling. During university holidays I wasn't able to get involved in a long term volunteering project so this project had the perfect balance to enable me to volunteer, try new things and travel for a short time afterwards. I have already recommended Pod to others and will continue to do so as the organisation of the project was fantastic and very well led by Gemma and Erng.”

Kirsten - 2011

"I chose Pod because of the project; I thought the summer camps sounded interesting. I want to be a teacher so I thought what a good way to combine teaching and Thailand, which is a country I had wanted to visit since I was 7 years old.

I was very nervous about the whole experience, mainly because I didn't know what to expect. I am from Seattle, WA in the U.S. and found Pod through random internet searching. I am so glad that I took the leap and came to Thailand for the children's summer camps. It was truly one of the best experiences I've had in my life thus far. The other volunteers are friends I will have for life. We are already planning and reunion in Australia or the UK. I learned so much more about Thai culture than I would have as a tourist. The schools that we volunteered at treated us like celebrities and were so hospitable and welcoming. The children were very eager to learn and also wonderfully warm and caring. My only wish was the trip would have been longer!"

Lesley - 2011

“After doing the project I cannot imagine going away now without volunteering! It has definitely outshone any trip I have ever been on and was well worth every penny! Having Gemma who is so well travelled out on the placement with us was a massive help. She is so Professional and was able to help us with any worries or queries we had! She always made us feel safe and also encouraged us to try things we would never do otherwise!

I found the appreciation from the kids and Teachers for the work we were doing the most rewarding. Having the kids come up to us at the end of the day repeating what they had learned was fantastic.

I heard about Pod through a friend and when I was sent the Volunteering Guide, it seemed like a very safe and structured program. Nothing was too much trouble and it was a smooth and fantastic experience! I would definitely recommend Pod.

Best thing I have ever done will be difficult to top it next year! Gemma was fantastic and is clearly dedicated to the work Pod do.”

Antonia - 2011

“Volunteering for the summer camp in Thailand has been a memorable experience. It definitely makes you more confident that you can go far away, meet new people and feel at home while having an amazing experience.

I wasn't sure how it would justify the cost but defiantly it did. The summer camp was run in a way that meant everyone worked as friends including organisers and volunteers. The support from the staff was brilliant as well as welcoming from the start. Our time was filled with visits to markets, restaurants, waterfalls and of course running the summer camps. Any help needed was given in all aspects of our time there. The home-stay on the mainland was particularly memorable and something that I would love to do again.

It was really rewarding to see how excited the children were during the summer camps. The kids were so enthusiastic for our activities and really helpfully with explaining what they had to do. The children also became more confident with using English and it was really good to hear them speaking in English.

Do it and enjoy all of it. Go out with the intention of working as a team, contributing and organising the activities. Put in as much energy and enthusiasm for making the experience enjoyable for the kids (this is their reward). Don't worry about anything because the POD team are there and will help.”

Donna - 2010

"I had an amazing time in Thailand doing the summer camps. Each school I worked at was a different experience and a new challenge. All the kids were amazing and enjoyed the camps as much as we did. I met and worked alongside some great people and hope to stay in touch with them in the future. I would definitely recommend this project to others and if i decided to do voluntary work again I would happily do another project with Pod.

A typical day at the camps began around 815-830am. We spent about 15mins getting set up for the morning lessons. We then taught 4 half an hour English lessons, which we made fun and interesting by using games. We had lunch between 1130-1230. Then did 4 more English lessons but with different activities. Each day ended between 230-3pm. After this we had time to relax and socialise for the afternoon.

I found the teaching the most rewarding part of the project. The children understood what I was teaching and remembered it, that was very rewarding for me."

Find out more about the English Activity Camps on an Island project

AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal