Since 2013, Aoba-Japan’s innovative Extension Program has been adding to its lineup, and over the last year they’ve held spring, summer, autumn and winter camps, as well as two sports camps.
As demand for their unique approach to community education programs grows, AJE is establishing a unique identity for itself, says director Greg Culos. “Aoba now has five different schools around Tokyo. This expansion has opened up opportunities for AJE to offer a wider variety of extension programs. For example, we have just added a Saturday program at our Waseda location based on the same principles of applied learning that define our camp programs,” he says. “Aoba’s core primary and secondary programs run Monday to Friday, but there’s a demand for weekend, evening, and seasonal learning opportunities. So we’re creating a series of programs that can be delivered anywhere, in order to meet the needs of anyone seeking rewarding learning opportunities beyond the classroom – as the word ‘extension’ suggests, AJE is open to everyone, including students coming from abroad.”
It’s about inspiring the kids by giving them opportunities beyond the ordinary
So how is the Extension Program set apart from the core education programs? AJE is described as offering “fun and inspiring experiential programs in an applied international learning context to enrich their formal education responsibilities.” Expressing this less formally, Culos says, “It’s about inspiring the kids by giving them opportunities beyond the ordinary to experiment a little, explore a little, adventure a little – essentially, giving them exposure to different things.”
The group does this through seasonal camps, continuing programs, and annual events, all of which are fun, challenging, and rewarding. The programs focus on themes of communication, sports, culture, friendship and new experiences. The summer camp now attracts around 250 children. 10% of them come from abroad or from other parts of Japan.
“There is a market for people wanting to come here to be immersed in things Japanese, but grow and even graduate within the kind of international context we offer,” says Culos. “It’s a fairly new notion, but I think this could catch on. In the meantime, our camps offer international students the chance to come to Japan for days or weeks, experience the culture, learn a bit of the language, and expand their world views.”
Sign Up For AJE’s Summer Camp 2017
Held over five weeks from July 17 to August 18, the summer camp’s theme is “Communication Unites the World.” Children can join for individual weeks, or stay for the full five weeks – those coming from abroad can be accommodated through Homestay Japan, which places foreign students with Japanese families.
“The idea is to give kids as many different types of experiential opportunities to communicate with each other as possible,” says Culos. And as the camp’s jam-packed lineup shows, there’s never a dull moment. The weeks are themed on different continents, and each day begins with morning classes drawn from a curriculum based around a continent’s people, food, geography, language and so on. These topics are explored and expressed in many ways, including arts and crafts, drama performances, role playing, and guest visitors. “The learning is focused more on the reasons for and context of discussion, and problems we might be trying to solve. It’s not so much about grammar, reading and writing – it’s more about language in context,” says Culos.
The afternoons are full of age-appropriate activities, including making model rockets, learning pottery skills, climbing mountains, river rafting, tree swinging, water sports, and more. “There’s also a Family Day once a week, and in the final week we have a big Olympiad where everyone is welcome to come back and join in – even if they only took part in one or two weeks of the camp.”
For more information and to sign up for AJE’s Summer Camp 2017, visit www.campsinjapan.com