We are a group promoting internationalism.
When the camp was founded in 1985 by Ann Jenkins, a retired French teacher from Bradford Woods, German was the only language taught. French was added in the camp's sixth year, and Spanish was added in its 10th.
The camp is always held for one week in August,
Campers range from second- to ninth-graders and come from communities throughout Western Pennsylvania and Ohio.
"It's important to learn a language before the age of 12," said Mrs. Schaefers, a German teacher who retired last year after 25 years of teaching first-grade students at Linden Elementary in Point Breeze and Manchester Elementary on the North Side. "That's when research shows that your brain closes down to language learning. We feel these children will have more of a chance of native-speaking ability and native accent, since they started learning it younger."
"We try to maintain a friendship between the three languages," Mrs. Schaefers said. "In the beginning, we found there was a competition, but we tried to promote this international friendship, so we do interact with each other often. We eat together, and we are together three evenings out of the week. Singing is a great way to get a language into your heart."
A different theme each year keeps campers engaged in something other than learning words and phrases .
"We look at what's current in the world and try to get the kids involved. But most importantly, the children hear native speakers speak the language throughout the day. It's almost like being in another country, but you're not that far from home."
Information: www.languagecamps.org or 724-799-8348.