The little OBK paillote, a 10 minute walk from the PSE central camp, only opened this year. It boasts a superb infrastructure, with 11 indoor rooms, a large playground, and pretty multi-coloured garlands which give it a festive atmosphere. This camp is a nursery during the year, and during the summer camp it welcomes the same children, aged between 2 and 5. The advantage of having the same children is that they are used to the camp and to PSE culture: they are very polite and well-behaved.
What is most interesting for Catalina, the camp coordinator, is that this is an ideal camp to innovate: the building is new and clean, the children are adorable and there is no uncertainty in the headcount – the logistics are perfect. “We have so much experience with the camps that opening a new paillote is rarely problematic: we base ourselves on the schedule of another paillote and adapt it accordingly. As we have a camp that works well, it’s nice to try out new ways of doing things. Today for example, we exchanged Khmer and European monitors: the Khmers organised the activities and the Europeans followed each team.” It is definitely a new experience to see the Khmers organise their strange games and improvise an English lesson, but also to see the Europeans get to know the children better and do their activities with them. Marine, a French monitor, thinks it’s interesting to change things up sometimes, especially because “when the Europeans organise an activity, they really have to over-simplify the games to be understood by the very small children.”
The team of Khmer monitors is particularly hard-working in this camp. Srim, 20 years old, wakes up every morning at 5am to come to the camp until lunch-time, at which point he returns to PSE to do an internship in the Lotus Blanc restaurant until 10pm. When he goes home at 10.30 he makes dinner for his family of 10, and the cycle begins again! This is all the more impressive as Srim is an extraordinary monitor.
Another project of Catalina’s is to invite everyone, parents included, to come and see a show by the children on the last day of camp. Little plays, puppet shows, songs, all in English and Khmer, will fuel the performance.
The most pleasant aspect of this paillote is being able to meet the parents, who come to collect their children every day. “Even if some of them are sometimes upsetting, like the man who came to demand more rice after claiming he had lost last week’s portion, most of them are generally very grateful and embrace us to thank us for taking care of their children.”