“His philosophy was to bring children to a beautiful place surrounded by nature while learning good manners to become young men and women,” says Camp Director Connie Jones.
The goal of the camp is to encourage curiosity; by engaging kids in a new culture, they are exposed to different lifestyles.
Campers use the French language throughout the day and attend classes in the morning to learn vocabulary and grammar. After language classes, campers are sent on to other activities, such as art, theatre, photography and archery. While each activity provides a level of fun and interaction, each is tied in some way to the culture. For instance, French cuisine is served at every meal by authentic French chefs. Campers are encouraged to learn how to make the meals and where the food comes from.
Kids also are able to choose which activities to participate in, and make their selections prior to arriving at camp. “It’s something the kids really enjoy,” Jones says. “They are more independent here. They can make their own choices about what they’d like to learn.”
Campers also are given the freedom to choose a region where French is spoken, and plan their activities to highlight that area in several ways. They serve authentic dishes from the region, speak in the particular dialect of French, study the geography, and sometimes play games that are popular in that area.
“We offer educational activities with a purpose,” says Jones.
Some special sessions that campers can participate in are the Olympic French Games, World Fair and Knights of the Round Table.
· The Olympic French games allow campers to participate in the games that France participates in during the Olympics that the United States may not play.
· The World Fair offers kids a chance to learn about other places around the world in which French is spoken. The campers create booths that highlight the cuisine, art, sports and historical events of each area. Kids tour the booths and sample the different types of food while learning the geography and culture of each region.
· The reenactment of the Knights of the Round Table allows campers to learn about chivalry and respect while role-playing. They imitate living in the Middle Ages by creating castles, and earn points through several activities that encourage respect, kindness and courage.
· To celebrate the French Revolution and Bastille Day, a water-balloon fight representing the battlefields is held. “Most camps would just have a water-balloon fight. But we want to incorporate French history while still having fun,” says Jones. “It’s really important to use the camper’s time well. Everything we do has a purpose behind it.”
Most of the campers come from the western Washington area, while others are from western Oregon and California. Some arrive from foreign countries, including France, Canada, Hong Kong, Poland and Argentina.
“We attract those who are curious. They’re a little different than the average student,” says Jones. “They are pretty highly motivated and have a very high interest in learning.”
Sessions for the camp run around $1,985 for a two-week stay and four sessions are offered throughout the summer. Family camps are also offered, and school groups participate in the spring and fall.
The fee structure at Camp Canoe is tiered in order to help campers contribute financially to the camp. The base rate of a session covers the direct cost associated with running the camp. For an additional 10 percent, campers are helping with some of the added capital costs. For 20 percent above the base cost, all capital improvements can be paid for.
“People who have the ability don’t mind paying it,” says Jones. “About 25 percent of our campers pay the top tier.”
There are scholarship programs available for campers who need financial assistance. These are awarded to returning campers by filling out an interest form and submitting a letter from their teacher to validate their interest in learning about the French culture.
For more information, visit www.canoeisland.org.
Heather Reichle is a freelance writer living in Columbus, Ohio. She can be reached via e-mail at HReichle28@yahoo.com