A few ‘facts’ about Bootcamp to give you a better insight…
Sharing a house/hostel for a week with strangers of all ages and backgrounds; having long and very busy days as well as late nights one after the other; sleeping in a strange bed; having your brain working at it’s full capacity all the time; being totally immersed in another language.
Realising your potential as a Welsh speaker; being away from loved ones and not being able to communicate with them (Welsh only rule); being on a huge personal journey; being totally immersed for a week in this culture you’ve fallen in love with; making some very special friends along the way; spending an incredible week with wonderful people.
There are always tears at the end of Bootcamp week.
For us as hosts it’s a ‘deep breaths’ kind of situation. You never know which way it’s going to go, or how everyone is going to cope. At it’s best it’s an amazing week, life changing for the Bootcampers and deeply moving. A week with an abundance of laughter and joy. A week in which you really connect with some wonderful people. A week of incredible experiences and brilliant days out.
At it’s worst, people don’t get on, people come and realise they’re not ready, the dynamics of the group doesn’t work, the weather is dreadful, there are illnesses, people get lost, there are minor accidents and so on - there are so many variables.
Bootcamp is very organic and volatile and getting the balance right, from our point of view is tricky.
We begin Bootcamp with tight schedule and clear set of specific activities and outings. But will almost always have to adjust and change the plan from day to day as the week progresses and we get to know the group better.
Each Bootcamp I’ve done has been different and I can now see a world of difference between the Bootcamps Aran and myself used to do in Tresaith a few years ago and the Northern Luxury Bootcamp which we now dedicate ourselves to - they are two completely different beasts.
My head is always buzzing with Bootcamp ideas and we are always experimenting with different formats - varying Bootcamp sizes, varying activities, adjusting schedules, changing challenges and so on. In truth there are so many different directions we could go in with Bootcamp, but there is no right way and definitely no way of pleasing everyone.
But at the end of the day, Bootcamps are not really an SSiW priority.
Here up North I can see Bootcamp becoming something I eventually take over doing as Aran is just way too busy with the business all the time. I may at some point stretch to 2 Northern Bootcamps a year, but certainly no more than that.
Having people attend Bootcamp who have completed course 1 certainly helps us. We know where everyone is at, we know more or less the length and breadth of their vocabulary and it gives us a fair idea of the activities which will be suitable. We also know that when everyone arrives on the first evening, we are able to all sit around the table and start conversing in Welsh, albeit a little stop start right at the beginning, but it gives us a good starting point.
I’m imagining that a Bootcamp with attendees who have a lower level that course 1 would take a long time to warm up and get off the ground. Activities and outings would be limited as well as conversation, therefore hindering the strong social side of Bootcamp.