Minnesota: Bemidgi, Concordia Language Villages, El Lago del Bosque - My Second Year.My second year at ELDB was a million times better than my first. It was fantastico (fantastic)! That summer I returned to camp as a creditor. Being a creditor means you do more work, but you also have more fun. Attending the four-week high school credit session gives the attendee the equivalent of a year of a high school language, while having fun with kids your own age.
I went back to Spanish camp, but the location was different. The summer of 2000 saw the opening of the first permanent Spanish camp on the shores of Turtle River Lake. The other creditors and myself were the first creditors at ELDB Bemidji.
The main part of camp includes the creditor dorms, classrooms, and el comedor (dining hall). When I went only that portion, and the infirmary, had been constructed. The buildings surrounding la plaza mejor (the main plaza) are formed into a horseshoe shape. The boy's dorms, Guadalajara and Madrid are directly across from the girl's dorms, San Jose, Cuzco, and Buenos Aires.
Each dorm has a small room adjacent to the sleeping area, which is used for classes. Classes are also held in el comedor (dining hall) and in the small biblioteca (library). Unlike my previous year at ELDB Oak Hills, ELDB Bemidji had bathrooms and showers in each cabin, which made using the restroom late at night considerably easier.
The counselors at each village come from the culture they represent. There are a few American counselors who have studied and posses' fluency in the target language. But whether they are foreign, or from the United States they all are there because they love it. That love of sharing and teaching others is evident from the first time you meet them. They enthusiastically participate in skits and songs and urge the campers to do the same. After a week or so you can't resist and you find yourself singing loud verses of a song, even if you don't know what you're singing.
Everyday I attended clase de gramtica (basic language study) and several electives. You might be thinking that going to a camp to learn is an odd idea. Actually, while it is odd, it is also fun. Everyone works on their homework together and the counselors and your teachers are more than willing to help. I suppose that the reason I love the Concordia Language Villages so much is that they treat me like a unique and special individual. They respect my desire to learn about cultures other than my own and try to help me without being patronizing. The counselors treat every camper as an adult who can make decisions regarding their own future. There are rules, but they are there to keep everyone safe and to promote a positive environment. At ELDB I don't feel ashamed of who I am, and I feel free to voice my opinions, knowing that someone will listen, and care.
Trying to learn a second language is difficult when everything around you is in you native tongue. So instead of trying most people learn what they need to pass the test and never use the words they've learned. The environment at ELDB is completely Spanish, just as Lac du Bois is French and Waldsee is German. Trying the language you want to learn becomes easier, since no one will laugh at you for using what you know. The really wonderful thing is to see the other kids who attend the language villages. Kids come from all across the United States and from all over the world. They come to learn and to share what they know with others. They are regular kids who just happen to like languages. They aren't geniuses, or prodigies. I certainly am not. We're all kids like the kids you go to school with and see on the street. We just all share one common goal, to expand our world by
learning a language together.
Concordia Language Villages is affiliated with Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. In addition to several summer sites at various locations, they have six year-round Villages in Minnesota that feature culturally authentic architecture. Native speakers and American language professionals help make total immersion possible. Their mission is to prepare young people for responsible citizenship in our global community. Bonus points for families: The Language Villages have created opportunities like family weeks (and family weekends) in response to the many parents who wish to experience what the summer youth program offers the young. Summer Family Fun Weeks include Chinese, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Swedish, and Swiss and provide the entire family --parents, children and grandparents with passports to the world. Family weekends include Danish, Russian and Norwegian in addition to those mentioned above. (Concordia Language Villages 901 8th St S. Moorhead MN 56562 USA. For summer camp information, toll-free 1-800-222-4750, (218) 299-4544 or www.concordialanguagevillages.org)
Content originally written by Amanda Nelson-Duac. Updated 1/2009. Updated 2012.