Marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate? Check. Wood, lighter, and skewers? Check. Speakers, football, and horseshoes? Check. It was time for the Embassy San Diego Beach Bonfire!
When I first started at Embassy English, I wanted our students to experience activities that San Diegans’ do, not just the typical tourist attractions. On top of that, I wanted to find something that would bring our center together and create lasting memories.
That is quite a tall order for one activity, but a beach bonfire seemed up to the task. Luckily, it was an instant success and has become a must do before leaving San Diego.
Students have the option to meet us in Ocean Beach or they can pay $10 to go on the party bus with us that leaves from school.
Earlier in the day, staff from Expedition America, one of our activity partners, claimed a prime beach spot and started setting up.
We arrive at the beach in the afternoon after class and there are a variety of games the students can take part in. To the right, there is a group learning how to throw a football and to the left, we are explaining how to play “cornhole” and “horseshoe.”
Of course, it would not be complete without an intense game of soccer down in front and having to run into the ocean to retrieve the ball.
As the last few sunrays kiss the sky, things calm down in order to appreciate the breathtaking scene and changing colors. Even if only for a few minutes, it is silently understood that this is a sight you do not want to miss. Some students are frantically taking pictures while others lounge quietly in the sand enjoying the moment.
Once the sun disappears beneath the horizon, the bonfire takes center stage and it is time for s’mores. What are s’mores?
Warm gooey chocolaty deliciousness is my first response.
When students inevitably raise their eyebrows, I explain that it is a marshmallow roasted over the fire with a layer of chocolate inside a sandwich of graham crackers.
When they still look at me like I have lost my mind, I let them know that it is a traditional American campfire treat.
After a demonstration (and one brave student willing to take the first bite), the sticky mess begins. Marshmallows are aflame, fingers are sealed together from the excess marshmallow seeping out the sides, and melted chocolate covers their smiling faces. Shamelessly, I am documenting the entire experience.
Initially, it takes some convincing, but in the end they come racing back for seconds, sometimes even thirds. It is at this point they understand why they are called s’mores … because you always want some more!
After the students get their fill and are huddled around the fire for warmth, the music begins. Most of the time a student becomes our designated DJ blasting tunes through our speakers, but on rare occasions, a student brings their guitar.
Requests are made and students exclaim in delight when they recognize the first few bars of the song.
They make their way through the current popular songs, sometimes even making up their own hilarious lyrics. But it does not take long before everyone is singing at the top of their lungs the chorus of Bob Marley’s “Everything’s Gonna Be Alright,” and while listening to them singing slightly off key, I know a beach bonfire was exactly the activity needed to bring our center together and create lasting memories.
New friends? Check.
Beach bonfire at sunset? Check.
Games, music, and s’mores? Check.
A San Diego experience to never forget? Check.
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