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Why are alcoholics attracted to summer camps?
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ISSAKAB



Joined: 12 Feb 2013
Posts: 34

PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 7:56 am    Post subject: Why are alcoholics attracted to summer camps? Reply with quote

I'll try to summarise, because I don't want to write a rant, entertaining as the sordid details might be!
I worked as a teacher at two camps this year, in two different European countries. At each one, there was a culture of what I'd call excessive drinking. Both times I witnessed people putting themselves at risk of serious injury, possibly even death. At the second camp (which I'd worked last year and was really looking forward to) the DOS was incompetent, incapable of exercising their duties and was eventually fired. Along with another teacher. What really depressed me was how most of the team joined in drinking with this individual. This was after another teacher left the camp, because they found the DOS' behaviour so unacceptable. I had to carry two teachers most of three weeks - hung over every morning, unenthusiastic, unprepared for their lessons and so on. Now I like a drink, I'm not anti alcohol, I drink two or three glasses of wine most evenings and have a very liberal attitude towards recreational drugs but for me there's a time and there's a place. The kids at all these camps were such a joy I find it hard to get my head around how heavy drinking would be more appealing than engaging with your students and just, well, doing the job with a clear head. Unless, of course, you are an alcoholic. I've revised my definition of alcoholic to include anyone who can't, or won't, control their drinking or whose drinking compromises their ability to do their job properly. Anyway, over to you, I'd like to read your thoughts. Is or was heavy drinking an issue among teachers where you work? Is it just part and parcel of the TEFL scene? Have any of you had bad experiences with alcoholic staff? Are summer camps especially vulnerable to attracting unsuitable people, who are not serious, and just want to party?
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bograt



Joined: 12 Nov 2014
Posts: 313

PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 8:32 am    Post subject: Re: Why are alcoholics attracted to summer camps? Reply with quote

ISSAKAB wrote:
I'll try to summarise, because I don't want to write a rant, entertaining as the sordid details might be!
I worked as a teacher at two camps this year, in two different European countries. At each one, there was a culture of what I'd call excessive drinking. Both times I witnessed people putting themselves at risk of serious injury, possibly even death. At the second camp (which I'd worked last year and was really looking forward to) the DOS was incompetent, incapable of exercising their duties and was eventually fired. Along with another teacher. What really depressed me was how most of the team joined in drinking with this individual. This was after another teacher left the camp, because they found the DOS' behaviour so unacceptable. I had to carry two teachers most of three weeks - hung over every morning, unenthusiastic, unprepared for their lessons and so on. Now I like a drink, I'm not anti alcohol, I drink two or three glasses of wine most evenings and have a very liberal attitude towards recreational drugs but for me there's a time and there's a place. The kids at all these camps were such a joy I find it hard to get my head around how heavy drinking would be more appealing than engaging with your students and just, well, doing the job with a clear head. Unless, of course, you are an alcoholic. I've revised my definition of alcoholic to include anyone who can't, or won't, control their drinking or whose drinking compromises their ability to do their job properly. Anyway, over to you, I'd like to read your thoughts. Is or was heavy drinking an issue among teachers where you work? Is it just part and parcel of the TEFL scene? Have any of you had bad experiences with alcoholic staff? Are summer camps especially vulnerable to attracting unsuitable people, who are not serious, and just want to party?


I worked at summer school in the UK a few times where there was a lot of drinking. Most people working there seemed to view it as a holiday for them as well as the kids. Basically if you weren't on evening duty you went down the pub. There was a lot of promiscuity too. Skinny dipping at midnight, drinking/sex games etc...On most days you only had to teach a few hours in the morning and supervise sports or go on a trip in the afternoon. Younger people could get away with getting drunk every night without any serious effects. Sure the lessons won't have been much cop but not sure the expectations were that high. So yeah, I'd say it's definitely part and parcel of the TEFL summer school scene.
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dragonpiwo



Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 1533
Location: Berlin

PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 9:36 am    Post subject: erm Reply with quote

TEFL is full of drunks and binge drinkers. The boho lifestyle attracts them like moths to a lamp. 23 odd years ago when I started teaching in the Czech Republic you were expected to drink with your students. In Poland it was no different. The summer camps in the UK were notorious for teachers drinking and shagging the adult students who were the same age as the younger, cool teachers. Someone hit the nail on the head when they likened summer schools to a vacation.

Many TEFL teachers have foreign wives. How do you think they met them? It wasn't always out on the town.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11433
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I reckon that teaching a summer school would drive me to drink Wink
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 15144
Location: Respice post te! Hominem te esse memento! Memento mori!

PostPosted: Sun Oct 08, 2017 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me, as a practising alky in the 1960s and 1970s, TEFL was ideal. To my surprise when I got sober thanks to Bill W and Doctor Bob, I found that it is actually easier sober than drunk !
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ISSAKAB



Joined: 12 Feb 2013
Posts: 34

PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 8:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the comments. Don't think I'll be doing any more camps. I agree about the boho lifestyle.
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getbehindthemule



Joined: 15 Oct 2015
Posts: 475
Location: Shanghai

PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I love a drink myself but never go out and get drunk the night before I have to teach. Two reasons: 1. I respect my students/position. 2. It's a nightmare going into work hungover in any type of job, let alone teaching, ugh!
Unfortunately the industry is full of heavy drinkers and alcoholics. I know loads of em. One person I know (female/very very heavy drinker) basically goes into teach Kindergarden drunk most mornings!
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Otterman Ollie



Joined: 23 Feb 2004
Posts: 1067
Location: South Western Turkey

PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is a sad fact that this industry does attract a certain back packer type who regards this line of work as a way to travel, meet other people, drink and indulge in in appropriate behaviour with their students. The amount of alcohol consumed is usually a consequence of the stress that comes with teaching!
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getbehindthemule



Joined: 15 Oct 2015
Posts: 475
Location: Shanghai

PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Otterman Ollie wrote:
It is a sad fact that this industry does attract a certain back packer type who regards this line of work as a way to travel, meet other people, drink and indulge in in appropriate behaviour with their students. The amount of alcohol consumed is usually a consequence of the stress that comes with teaching!



If I ever find teaching to be highly stressful I will quickly change careers.
When it comes to degenerate behaviour, the seasoned heavy drinking older teachers are far worse than the backpacker type, as you put it! Wink
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ISSAKAB



Joined: 12 Feb 2013
Posts: 34

PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 2:55 pm    Post subject: stressful Reply with quote

Being in an unfamiliar environment in a town or city where you don't know anyone, barely speak the language, is extremely stressful and I can understand people using alcohol to get through long winter evenings. For me stress comes when things are not properly prepared, what angered me this summer was having to continually carry people who hadn't done the minimum of preparation. Kids getting bored, and then being difficult because they don't know what they're supposed to be doing. The DOS being so loaded as to be incapable of planning or organising anything. I arrive at a summer camp armed with games and my own resources so I've always got something to keep students busy.
if you arrive at work hungover or indeed still under the influence of alcohol, you're generating a stressful situation for yourself. especially with children and teens, they pick up when you're not present for them and will start to seek attention in unwelcome ways.
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getbehindthemule



Joined: 15 Oct 2015
Posts: 475
Location: Shanghai

PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 11:59 pm    Post subject: Re: stressful Reply with quote

ISSAKAB wrote:
Being in an unfamiliar environment in a town or city where you don't know anyone, barely speak the language, is extremely stressful and I can understand people using alcohol to get through long winter evenings. For me stress comes when things are not properly prepared, what angered me this summer was having to continually carry people who hadn't done the minimum of preparation. Kids getting bored, and then being difficult because they don't know what they're supposed to be doing. The DOS being so loaded as to be incapable of planning or organising anything. I arrive at a summer camp armed with games and my own resources so I've always got something to keep students busy.
if you arrive at work hungover or indeed still under the influence of alcohol, you're generating a stressful situation for yourself. especially with children and teens, they pick up when you're not present for them and will start to seek attention in unwelcome ways.


Very true OP! I teach Primary, it's amazing what these young students pick up on!
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creeper1



Joined: 24 Aug 2010
Posts: 454
Location: New Taipei City, Taiwan

PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 7:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just want to echo what a few others have said.

Dealing with my little bundles of joy is taxing while sober.

To hell with doing it nursing a hangover.
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ISSAKAB



Joined: 12 Feb 2013
Posts: 34

PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 6:24 pm    Post subject: Re: stressful Reply with quote

[/quote]Very true OP! I teach Primary, it's amazing what these young students pick up on![/quote]

I have in the past, but no longer, teach small children. One thing I have learned is that children are very perceptive and the one thing they certainly are not is stupid. They will spot a nob head a mile off.

I don't think I'm going to do any more camps, the stress, the issues with sleeping arrangements (sharing rooms) and the generally abysmal pay isn't worth it. Which is a shame because I've enjoyed the actual job.
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depechemodefan1966



Joined: 31 Jan 2015
Posts: 41

PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ISSAKAB, a great point that you have raised. I've worked at camps, in Ukraine, every summer since 2013 and never went into a lesson in the morning with a hangover, or showing any signs of the previous evening's drinking. In fact, the only times I would have a drink is in the afternoons when I didn't have to teach, or participate in any activities. I would go into the local town and have a few beers in a beer garden, but it was usually with a meal. Getting back to the camp, I would head straight for my room.

The only 'heavy' drinking I did was on a Saturday evening, by myself in my room because I didn't have to work on the Sunday, so therefore, did not mix with the kids. I am lucky in that I don't get hangovers anyway. But, yes, it's true that kids know you have been drinking, even it you don't have a hangover. It's the smell of it. I think at camps, you need to have a moderate drink to while away the boredom, the isolation and being away from home.

By the way, I always insist on my own room. I don't do sharing.
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In the heat of the moment



Joined: 22 May 2015
Posts: 274
Location: SAUDI ARABIA

PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've done three different UK-based summer camps. The only one with significant drinking was the one where the DoS never arrived, there was only one L1 in the classroom, some of the foreign adults accompanying the students (i.e. not the teachers) were drunk during excursions, each teacher had seven contact hours a day, there's a pub on the campus, the accommodation was hotter than hell (architect/builder/material issue), the catering was cheap/awful, half of the older students smoked in public and who-knows-what in private, and the local pubs were plentiful and cheap.

Saying that, the students were excellent and the teachers - apart from a young guy who couldn't adjust - coped admirably. None of the teachers returned the following year, of course.
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