The APA winter camp takes place each January in the beautiful Jeseníky Mountains and provides excellent opportunity for both Czech and international students to master the principles of adapted skiing and its teaching to persons with physical, intellectual, visual and other disabilities. To ensure the students get as many benefits from the camp as possible, they also have hands-on teaching experience with children with disabilities.
Each year, the winter camp proves to be one of the most popular courses our faculty offers. If the reason behind its popularity is still a mystery to you, then read on – we asked one of our exchange students about her experience with the camp.
Xiao Wang is from China and is studying International Master in Adapted Physical Activity (IMAPA), based in KU Leuven, Belgium.
Why did you decide to register the APA winter camp course?
The APA winter camp course has been a part of the internship for IMAPA students since forever to interact with people with disabilities. Personally, I had zero experience with winter sports and this was the best opportunity to try skiing.
Were your expectations different from the reality?
Due to my lack of skiing skills, I expected less than the reality. All students spent five days improving their skills and I was praying to be able to ski a little bit without crashing into others. Anyway, the truth is that I learned the basic skills in three days and then I was trying an advanced level, such as carving. By the end of the winter camp, I was able to supervise and advise people with disabilities and beginners.
Did you interact with Czech students too?
The Czech students I met in the camp are the best, helpful, caring and skillful people. When we paired up for the last five days, we had a lot of fun and shared our cultures and experience which was the best moment I have ever had. Even though some of them were part-time students who didn’t speak English at all, they were willing to help me and tried their best to make me understand them, which made me realize that language is not a barrier for such nice people.
Can you describe your typical day at the camp?
We were on a tight schedule for the first five days. We started at 8 am and were skiing until 5 pm. Our instructor prepared various training plans for each of us based on our different skills, which made the training fun and we improved a lot.
The following five days were not as busy as the previous ones. We were assigned another group to balance and interact with different clients, which made us adopt the clients´ schedule. And we made a perfect team.
Did you have time and energy for a social programme in the evenings?
To be honest, we were all worn out but we did have time and a nice place to socialize in the evening. For most of the time though, we were just hanging out in our rooms to relax.
What did you consider the biggest challenge?
For me, it was the skiing itself. I am scared of steep slopes, slippery surface and heavy snow. But my teammates, instructor and even the people from the camp that I didn’t know were all protective and supportive and they wanted to create an environment which was integrated.
What is the single most memorable experience you have from the camp?
The moment I wanted to quit the camp. For the first two days when we were still learning the basic skills, I kept falling. Our instructor always prepared a teaching plan one level above our abilities which meant there was a different challenge for every day. The last time I fell badly, I thought that I would never learn to ski and I felt frustrated and wanted to quit. Meanwhile, my instructor showed up with all his affection and care and asked me if I was ok. At that moment, I realized that he made all his effort to teach me and wanted only the best for me. And it was at that moment when I felt such gratitude for learning to ski and the APA programme which can make a person become a better self.
How can the overall experience from the winter camp benefit your future career?
As I mentioned before, I felt that I had a chance to become a person who is caring, supportive and humanitarian through APA. This camp was a start of my skiing experience, which I would like to develop in the future, and I also experienced the adapted skiing with disabled people which gave me an insight into my APA career.
Would you recommend the winter camp to future students? Why?
I will highly recommend the winter camp to future students because our experience is unique and nobody can redo or simply copy paste. I just feel sorry that I couldn’t experience more in limited life. Besides, the cost of the winter camp is lower than in many other countries, it is well- organized and people are integrated. Due to global warming, we have fewer and fewer opportunities to be in contact with snow and I don’t even mention the perfect conditions for sports.
If you had to describe the APA camp experience using 5 words, which ones would you use?
Beloved, integration, joy, active, cherished.