Interested in a 2018 bwtcamp?
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As there are very few details about Bwtcamp easily findable around the site (I will change that soon!), here are the answers to some Frequently Asked Questions:
What is Bwtcamp?
Bwtcamp is a unique experience which turns Welsh learners into new Welsh speakers.
It's a week's holiday during which you will probably do more in Welsh that you have ever done before (yes, even if you've been learning for ages, but especially if you have only been learning Welsh for a short time).
It's fairly obvious that a week living in Welsh will transform your ability to speak and to understand the language. What's not so obvious is that it is almost impossible to have that experience outside of bwtcamp.
If you learn another language, like French or Japanese, you can always visit somewhere where you will have to use your new language to communicate: That is when you really fast-track your confidence in your new language abilities
But bwtcamp is the only place in the world where you have to use your Welsh because no-one understands any other language. So Bwtcamp is the only place in the world where you can fast-track your confidence by having to communicate through Welsh.
(Suspicious voice!) Why is it called Bwtcamp? It sounds like hard work!
We normally think of bootcamps (with an oo) as physically hard places to be. That's what turns you from a civilian to a soldier, or from flabby post-christmas body to beach-ready Adonis (If only that worked, eh?)
But Bwtcamp is not physical, it's mental. It's a holiday, and we have loads of fun, while your brain does the press-ups and the 12k runs.
Your body is relaxing and de-stressing, soaking in the beauty of the Ceredigion coast, and enjoying the sites and sounds of local cafes and tourist attractions.
Your brain is working out furiously, getting into shape and, yes, becoming the brain of a Welsh-speaker.
Where is Bwtcamp held?
Tresaith, where the bwtcamps are held, is a coastal village on Ceredigion Bay, about 8 miles up the coast from Aberteifi (Cardigan) and 30 miles down the coast from Aberystwyth.
We stay in a converted chapel about 200m from the usually sandy beach. (How much sand, and how many pebbles there are varies according to the weather, but it's usually more sand than pebbles!)
What kind of things do we do?
Bootcamp starts at around about 4pm on a Saturday evening, with a cup of tea and an introduction in English. Then we turn the English tap off, the Welsh tap on, and Bwtcamp begins go iawn (for real)
In the evening, we'll have tea and go to the pub. It's nice and relaxing because you will all have traveled, some further than others, and you'll need to get to know each other.
On Sunday we still do very little. Weather permitting, we'll visit the beach and a couple of local places, have Sunday lunch, and keep on relaxing. You will most likely be absolutely exhausted by the end of the day.
From Monday onwards, we ease you in to speaking Welsh to real life Welsh speakers, and go on jollies around the countryside. There are market towns and woollen mills, cafes and waterfalls, museums and cheese factories, and lots of opportunities to see, hear and use your Welsh.
Most evenings, we eat a meal cooked by a pair of bwtcampers in the massive kitchen at the centre, and either end up in the pub for a night cap, or play games and chat and sing at the centre.
Importantly, we also have to fill a big jar full of dried peas...
What do I need to bring?
Bring what you would normally take on holiday to Wales (ie clothes for summer, winter, rain and drought).
You will also need a sleeping bag or duvet, a sheet and a pillow case.
If you have a particular plan for an evening meal you'd like to cook, then bring any specialist ingredients you need. There are enough small shops in the area for staples, and there is a Tesco in Aberteifi for slightly more exotic things, but you may not find exactly what you want there.
You're welcome to bring musical instruments, small games like cards or board games, but bear in mind that you won't be able to use instruction books in English, and will have to explain any rules in Welsh to your fellow bwtcampers.
We have scrabble, monopoly and a few other board and card games in Welsh.
Dietary needs – see Special requirements.below.
If you have special dietary needs, we can deal with that. Let us know (We'll send you an email asking for details before bootcamp). If you have a serious food allergy, then bear in mind that fridge, freezer and pantry are all communal, and there is only one kitchen. For most allergies, there are ways around that, but while we can make sure that nuts or dairy products aren't put in your food, we can't guarantee, for instance, a nut-free or dairy-free environment.
Accesibility wise, the centre has steps, we do quite a bit of walking, and some of the places we visit aren't particularly disabled friendly. Cat uses a wheelchair, but can use stairs and walk with sticks when needed. That is about the limit of disability that we can cater for, so if you have stricter needs than that, you will need to contact us and discuss how much your needs will limit your experience, and whether you will get the benefits that you should from Bwtcamp.
How do I book, and what is the price?
For every Bwtcamp, we will open a page on our forum some months before, asking for interest. If more than 10 or so people are interested, we will then announce a booking date, and on that date, the booking page will be opened (with a link from the “interest” thread on our forum), and Bwtcampers accepted on a first come first served basis.
Only 10 people can book on a Bwtcamp, so that we can give everyone the attention they need, and so that we don't swamp some of the smaller venues. It can also get bit cramped in the Ganolfan if there are more than 10.
Bwtcamp costs £285 plus a £10 booking fee (that PayPal take off us). Very soon, there will be VAT to add to that as well (which will make the price about £342), but for April, there is no VAT.
You will need to pay the full price when booking, and that money will not be refundable if you cancel unless we either re-sell your place (we will keep the £10 booking fee) or have cancelled you ourselves. We usually are able to resell places given enough notice, and we haven't yet had to cancel a bwtcamp except for a lack of numbers on one bwtcamp a few years ago.
You can pay with a credit / debit card, or directly via PayPal.
The price of bootcamp does not include food or entry to museums etc, however we do try to avoid too much extra expense.
How much Welsh do I need to qualify for Bwtcamp?
This is a difficult question to answer, because different people with the same amount of Welsh will find bwtcamp easier or harder depending on their personality.
We set a minimum as having completed Level 1 of the SaySomethinginWelsh course, as this will give you a basic set of patterns, and a basic understanding of spoken Welsh.
There are three things to bear in mind, though:
1) On the first ever bootcamp (2010), there were only about 10 SSiW lessons available and no-one starved, left and never came back, had a nervous breakdown, or suffered any other particular unpleasance, so you can get away with very little Welsh. You can see our original Bwtcmpers here. The fideos were done at the end of Bwtcamp, which is why they seem so absolutely exhausted. But spot Dee, who runs Bwtcamp with me, and you will realise how well Bwtcamp works!
2) A lot of people will have more Welsh than that, and if you are struggling to keep up with other bwtcampers, it can be disheartening.
The paradox is that if you turn up with 5 lessons of SSiW under your belt, you will probably go home having enjoyed less than anyone else, but having improved more than them, so there is a balance to be struck.
3) Over the years, I have seen one common factor to all Bwtcampers: How much you enjoy bwtcamp depends almost totally on how much you throw yourself into everything and how much you can move past having to speak good Welsh to just speaking as much Welsh, good or bad, as possible. It depends very little on how much Welsh you have on arrival.
In other words, I've seen people who have completed everything we have, struggling to talk because they are trying to say stuff right. On the other hand,I've seen people who later admitted that they hadn't competed level 1 having a brilliant time and improving exponentially, because they've just decided to throw caution to the wind and use everything they know, and make up the rest.
So, it's not how much Welsh you have, but how many dried peas you put in the jar, that decides how much you get out of bwtcamp!