This is the final post in our series about our recent trip to Concordia Language Villages' Lesnoe Ozero Russian family camp! So far, we've discussed what CLV is and what makes it different from other language camps, how to prepare and pack for a week (or more) at camp, toured the gorgeous Lesnoe Ozero Russian camp setting, walked through a day at camp, drooled over all the delicious food, and reviewed how and what we learned during our week.
In this last post, we'll offer up our final thoughts on our experience.
What did you like best about Concordia Language Villages?
Overall, we were very, very impressed with our experience at CLV. I first wanted to come to CLV 25+ years ago. That's a lot of time to build anticipation. I was not let down. My husband originally agreed to come because he knew it meant a lot to me. He not only had a great time, but he has already enthusiastically recommended the camp to his fellow expat colleagues. Our son started camp excited to learn Russian but hesitant about the outdoor setting. His previous camp experiences were held indoors to support his more inside interests. He had a blast exploring the great outdoors.
As far as our favorite aspects, in no particular order.
1. We loved meeting the other families attending camp with us. It was wonderful to build new friendships with other globally-minded parents. I enjoyed hearing how other families are raising bilingual children and teaching them to see themselves as citizens of the world.
3. Going to camp with our son gave us a unique opportunity to see how he interacts with his peers and other adults when he wasn't necessarily aware of our presence. As the week went on, he became much more comfortable with his friends and counselors and would want to be with them even though we were around. We saw his kindness, his silliness, his willingness to try new things, and his need to work on certain social skills!
6. The food was incredible! The kitchen staff really did an amazing creating home-cooked culturally appropriate food. We are adding several new recipes to our meal rotation at home because we were introduced to them at camp. I also greatly appreciated how well the entire staff (in the kitchen and out) were aware of our son's food allergies and made sure he was able to enjoy almost everything served).
9. We loved the variety of ways we could learn about the culture: arts, sports, songs, food, media, informal discussions...there really was something for everyone, from the youngest campers to the oldest, from those like us who were totally new to Russian culture to Russian immigrants who came to camp to learn more about or share their heritage. Related to that, we loved that camp was not just a language camp, but also a culture camp, and that the two ideas were fully integrated, because that's how the real world works when you travel some place where a different language is spoken.
I will say, though, that I'm grateful for the social media presence onsite. As a parent, I loved seeing photos of camp and updates on the day on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as the Lesnoe Ozero blog.
Was there anything you didn't like?
Our complaint list is pretty short. The futon in our cabin seems to be broken (it can't be re-positioned into a couch) and one of the fans wasn't working. But not a big deal. There were a few hiccups in communication before we got to camp, regarding our son's almond milk (the camp provided soy, which he loved), and during camp, when we had some confusion about where our son should be. In both circumstances, the issues were very quickly resolved. The rules about boating were rather strict, and the kayaks weren't available due to the registration tags not yet arriving. That was disappointing, but the boys did get one nice canoe ride, and honestly, we weren't at a loss for things to do. Finally, the camps are a bit out of the way (17 hours by car for us). There isn't anything to be done about it, and we wouldn't want the location to change because it's really perfect. But it is a hike so transportation costs do increase quite a bit.
Do you think you get enough value for your money?
Absolutely! When we considered the comparable cost of our cabin, all-you-can-eat meals, available activities, setting,...and the language learning, CLV is a better deal than a week vacation at someplace like Disney or Great Wolf Lodge or a cottage near the ocean. There's certainly not anything wrong with a trip like that, but we feel that the experience we got at Concordia is a more unique experience that will pay dividends for the rest of our child's life.
Would you come back to CLV?
We would love to come back to Concordia Language Villages. Our priority as a family to spend time every other year in the Netherlands to see Niels' family. It's unlikely that we would be able to afford both a a trip to Europe and a trip to CLV in the same year. But, we have limited time before our son would want to go to camp on his own, so we are already discussing when we can go back. We aren't yet sure if we would go for more Russian or would want to try a new language. We wish we could do them all!
How can I work at CLV?
One of the cool things about working at Concordia Language Villages is that counselors don't have to commit to an entire summer like other camps require. This means that the counselors who come tend to be older and more educated, which helps with the learning aspect of the camp. Also, the camp prefers to hire native speakers, although heritage and other speakers who have lived in countries that speak the target language are also welcome to apply. You can learn more about the positions and requirements on the CLV website.
How can I found out more about the languages offered at CLV?
Here's a handy link to the main page for each language:
The language I'm interested in studying isn't offered at CLV. How do new languages get added?
Sigh, perhaps this is our only real disappointment with Concordia Language Villages. They don't offer Dutch, our heritage language! We spoke with Lara, the dean of Lesnoe Ozero, and she told us that many of the more recent camps were started because of groups that worked with sponsors to start a camp for their language group. We have already been in communication with the Dutch embassy to discuss the possibility of a Dutch camp. Fingers crossed.
And finally, what did your son think of camp?
Let's ask him!
Let's ask him!
And with that, the sun sets on this series about Concordia Language Villages.
Goodbye and thank you for reading!
You can learn more about the CLV method on the Concordia Language Villages website.
You can see more photos of our week at Lesnoe Ozero on Facebook.
Other posts in this series:
If you have any other questions about Concordia Language Villages, leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer it.
I was not compensated for writing any post in this series. My motivation was to provide the kind of information I was looking to find. Consider this my very verbose evaluation. Keep in mind that our family attended the Russian camp, so some details may vary for those attending one of the other language villages.