German-American School Association of Southern California
Summer Camp 2018
For the past five years, Orange, CA, has marked the home of the GASA Sommer Camp, a camp allowing young children to broaden their knowledge of the German language. The GASA Sommer Camp of 2018 followed suit, attracting youth from ages 7-16 from all around the country and even Guadalajara, Mexico. Everywhere from Illinois, Arizona, Nevada and Northern California to local Los Angeles, kids will be talking about the memories they made and the language they learned in this camp.
The camp takes place in the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center, with two bunkhouses for boys and girls. This center offers children the opportunity to explore new and engaging activities including archery, swimming, and BB gun target shooting this year. In addition, one of the highlights was a visit to the Lucy-Lou Mine, with an emphasis on California Gold Rush history. We learned about earthquakes, plate tectonics, rocks, geodes, minerals and mining in a fun, hands-on fashion. With such a plethora of activities, a regulated schedule is key to make sure everybody can experience everything.
Kids will wake up and eat breakfast, then go to classes after a short break. Classes are divided by age and skill to ensure that everybody can work and learn at a steady pace. After lunch, the classes will be combined with one or two other classes to make a larger group, which will then go on to activities such as singing and dancing, baking, or crafting. Dinner is served after these groups check out one of the Education Center’s activities. At the end of the day, kids have time to go fishing, play in the field, hike, or watch a movie in German. Kids also have opportunities to socialize and make friends from all over the U.S., united by their wish to expand their knowledge of German. A dance hosted by the teachers and counselors one evening allows the campers to have fun and enjoy music, while also getting to know their peers and dancing with them, and a water fight on another evening gets everyone into action.
The GASA Sommer Camp generally has a theme; this year’s camp revolved around Cornelia Funke and “Die Wilden Hühner,” a book series written by Funke about a clique of girls and their boy gang rivals, “Die Pygmäen.” This theme helps shape the curriculum for classes, including preparing a play/musical that is performed and recorded on the last day of Camp. Every class has the opportunity to showcase what they’ve learned in a performance that can range anywhere from a scene written by the students themselves to a rehearsed song.
After the play, the counselors and teacher will light a bonfire for the kids to make s’mores and sing some of the various songs they learned throughout the week.
“It’s really great,” says Tyler, one of the campers. “I’ve made a lot of friends, and I definitely know more German than I did before. I’m glad I came.”
by Kai Levato, 14 years old