July 12, 2005
Concordia College has been running summer language camps in this area for over twenty-five years now. Their method is tried and true.
Many of the camps are around their own private lake, while others are sub-contracted to other camps in the area. The villages that have their own locations have a distinct flavor to that culture. For instance the German village looks like a little square from a town on the Rhine, while the French village looks like a street in Paris. The camps that are sub-contracted are a bit more rustic and look like a camp you would expect to find in northern Minnesota with log cabins and docks on a lake. All are charming in their own way.
The minute we drove up to Mori no Ike (the Japanese camp) we were greeted by staff in Hapi Coats and kimonos. We were told where to park - the only problem was it was all in Japanese! With plenty of hand motions and a game of charades we figured out where we had to go. This was a taste of what the kids would be doing for the next week.
Checking into camp was like going through customs. You had a passport and had to pass through the different stations. All contraband was removed - any English reading material!
The week is spent being immersed in the language and culture. The food is all native to that region and in the Japanese camp only hashi (chopsticks) can be used. The kids play Japanese games, do Japanese crafts and recreate the festivals of Japan.
It was a wonderful week full of learning and playing hard. The kids learned more Japanese in this one week, more than I could have hoped for.
The villages also do family weekends in the winter as well as Elderhostel weeks. It's a fun and marvelous way to learn a foreign language and I urge anyone young or old to give them a try.
From journal Paul Bunyan and Japanese Camp - Bemidji, Minnesota