I just got back from 10 days in Thailand. I'd never been there and was really excited when I got the opportunity to do a nature and leadership program for a week with middle school kids.
An exciting part of my work is in creating a program from start to finish - not only writing curriculum, but also being able to directly deliver it and work with the kids. Having created programs like Leadership Forum for SuperCamp in the past, I have experience in this. But what awaited me in Thailand was a very different beast. This beast had peanut sauce on it.
The first thing that hit me was the age range: 8-16. In case you have never worked with kids, that is one monster of an age range. It is difficult enough to continually engage one age range, much less a developmental range whose internal dialogue runs from "how do I get with the opposite sex" to "how do I avoid cooties". But my Thai marketing partners had to accept a wide range so that they could get the enrollments they needed for the program to get off the ground. This is normal.
Quick tip: if you're ever in a situation with a diverse age-range, use stories as engagement tools for your content. Good story-telling works for everyone, and the language does not have to be focused on demographic tendencies as much as propelling the story.
To say the program was diverse in content would be like saying Don King has a little bit of hair. We traveled across the country on a bus, doing leadership sessions in the most prestigious boarding school in Bangkok, sleeping in tents in the shadow of a war memorial where fighters thwarted communists, barbecuing octopus and fish balls, feeding monkeys from a boat, eating seafood up in a fisherman's hut on water stilts, planting mangrove tress in mud that we sunk in up to our chest, and generally just had an excellent time learning and exploring Thailand, its culture, and our leadership skills.
I would recommend a trip there to anyone who loves to travel in Asia. But... the swine flu is hot there right now. I actually got sick toward the end of the program, which sucks because no matter what kind of sickness you get, if there are cases of swine flu around all you can think is, "Do I have swine flu?"
Here's hoping nix on the swine.