An Interview with the Camp Director
I am Rebecca Cole. I am a Canadian British elementary school teacher with over 17 years of experience.
I trained at Cambridge University in England earning a Bachelor of Education in primary education with a focus on Drama and English.
I have worked at various schools in England and New Zealand and at the Grange school in Santiago, Chile for 13 years where I was the Head of the English and drama departments in the primary school.
I now live on our beautiful farm with my Chilean husband, Alberto and my three children.
During the year I teach drama, music and movement classes for children in Talca and do team building and professional development workshops for teachers.
My teaching philosophy is a simple one - a child that feels safe and happy will learn.
Why the name Makemake?
When we first moved to the farm my kids became obsessed with the stars and planets. On our first night in our new home we were looking at the night sky through an application on an IPad. We found a dwarf planet that had recently been discovered and named Makemake.
My children loved the name and investigated the planet further. It was discovered on Easter day and so it was named after the Easter island God of creation Makemake. We decided we loved the name and called our house Casa Makemake, so it makes sense that the camp would be Camp Makemake too.
When it comes to Camp Makemake, what inspires you?
My children are a great inspiration - they are my wisest consultants and harshest critics. They taste my cookies, play my games, help choose the camp activities, pick locations, trial equipment, sample my recipes and stop me from taking myself too seriously.
My husband's incredible work ethic and perseverance when facing the challenges of organic farming inspire me. His great love of the outdoors and everything that is green and sustainable and his constant desire to share his knowledge and beliefs to make our world a better place - that inspires me.
The Forest School movement and its wholesome values of unstructured play, simplicity and connection to nature inspires me.
But perhaps my greatest source of inspiration is my own wonderful childhood. I was blessed with parents who taught me to love, value and enjoy life. To fill it with simple pleasures, good food, art, drama, play, nature, special celebrations, stories, poetry, make-believe, friends and family. And most importantly to value kindness above all else.
What are you passionate about?
My greatest passion is children which is why I first became a teacher.
Childhood is such a precious time and I want to do everything in my power to give all the children in my life a taste of good old fashioned fun that I experienced as a child. The get muddy, sing loudly, dance crazily, feel good about yourself sort of fun that comes from sharing with friends and family in a natural and simple setting.
I love games of all sorts: board games, water games, team games, drama games, party games, guessing games, riddles, quizzes, puzzles, scavenger hunts and make-believe games.
Camp Makemake is all about having fun and working as a team and much of this comes through the wide range of games that we play.
I am passionate about education. In my years of teaching I have realised that children learn how to make good decisions by making decisions not by following instructions so at camp we promote an environment of trust where children are encouraged to make their own decisions and learn from their mistakes.
Other things that I love include kids’ songs, puppetry, dancing, acting, public speaking, travel, debating, drawing, photography, cooking, reading, nature and organic gardening.
What are your hopes for the campers?
At Camp Makemake we strive to create a perfect balance of fun, laughter and craziness with moments of calm, peace, gratitude and reflection. I hope that each camper not only enjoys the here and now moments at camp but, carries away a sense of pride for having had the opportunity to be part of something very special. I want each camper to know what it is to belong.
I hope that the campers learn what it is to pitch in and be valued as an integral part of a team. They will be given opportunities to connect to nature, to play freely, to make new friends, to explore, to learn how to communicate with each other in a positive way - to listen actively and make meaningful contributions to conversations.
I hope that each camper discovers the joy that comes from singing and reflecting together each evening around a campfire. At camp children are given the space and time to breathe and dream.
I hope the campers start to notice the connection between the daily choices they make and the animals, insects plants and trees that they share our planet with.
I hope they fall into their tents exhausted and content at the end of the day, with their bellies full of good food and their minds full of happy thoughts about who they are and how they can make the world a better place.
I hope that Camp Makemake gives our campers a huge injection of confidence, enabling them to go back to school energized and full of strength and positivity, full of happy summer memories and a strong desire to protect our beautiful planet.
What do you think kids need today?
Children today need what they have always needed: to feel loved, seen, understood, and fully supported through their mistakes and successes.
When children feel loved, they experience safety, warmth and connection, which enables them to take on the challenging job of growing up. A job which in today's world is increasingly full of pressure.
Today, record numbers of children and teens across the globe are experiencing anxiety and depression. This was already happening pre pandemic largely due to inactivity, social media pressure, addiction to smartphones, not enough time spent outdoors, a sense of hopelessness about the state of the environment, academic pressure and so on.
Camp is a space that nurtures children's mental health. As a teacher I am very aware that children cannot make academic gains or form real social connections if their emotional needs are not adequately met. One of the greatest benefits of a tech-free camp is that things are pared down to basics. Without the distraction of screens, our campers have to connect with themselves, each other and nature. The connections that are created are real, deep and meaningful and does absolute wonders for their mental health.
It is my absolute priority to make camp a safe, inclusive and uplifting place where every camper is valued for their unique contribution to our community. A place where kids feel accepted and proud to simply be who they are.
Today's children need a real break, they need to let their hair down, to be wild and silly just for the sake of it. And they also need nature, peace and calm more than ever. Our camp programs are designed to create a perfectly balanced week of both excitement and calm in order to help our campers reset and thrive.
Why did you start Camp Makemake?
Every holiday our farm house filled up with children - friends and cousins. When it was time to head back home to Santiago the visiting children never wanted to leave - the blueberries were so sweet, the pool so refreshing, the view so idyllic, the homemade food so good, the games so fun, the air so fresh...and so their list of excuses went on. Their parents often said to me that I should start a summer camp. And it made sense. Our home was the perfect spot and we had so much to share.
I worked on a traditional summer camp in New Hampshire USA many moons ago and remembered the wonder and magic of it all. I decided to team up with some dear and talented teacher friends and make it happen. I wanted to create something incredible and special for our own children and to open our doors and arms for others to join in too. And so in the summer of 2016 Camp Makemake was born!
Watch our video!
At Camp Makemake we believe...
Childhood should be simple and full of awe and wonder.
Most children´s lives are cluttered with toys, devices and structured activities. We create an enviromment where children have the time to wonder, think, read, play and marvel at the natural world around them.
Childhood should be full of stories, make -believe, dressing up and a touch of magic.
At camp we feel it is our responsibility to help create an environment where these magical moments can take place. We create a place where children´s imaginations thrive and their hearts soar.
Childhood should be spent outside as much as possible.
Children who play in nature will grow up to love and defend it. At camp we share our infectious love of the great outdoors with our campers. We teach them how to love and care for our environment and and its inhabitants. A farm is a perfect place for a child to learn and grow.
Childhood is fleeting and should be cherished.
We want to make sure that our campers have a truly magical experience at camp. We create a safe and happy environment where it is okay to be silly, to get muddy, to have fun for the sake of it. A place where kindness, respect and gratitude are at the forefront of everything. A space where each camper can truly be themselves without worrying about the judgement of others.