Cultural exchange – camp provides a global perspective

Castles and conversation

We spent April vacation across the Pond with my family in the UK.  It is always a great opportunity for my kids to spend time in the places where I grew up and to experience living in a completely different culture.  Though it is only for short while we embrace the immersion learning that it provides.  While we may speak the same language all be it with different accents and sometimes even vocabulary there is something distinctly British about being in the UK.  I have spent nearly as many years living in Maine as I spent growing up in England so a reminiscent return home always reminds me of the cultural differences that a common language cannot erase.  Our trip was filled with a wide variety of experiences from brick house and  castles to heritage tours with plenty of green fields and countryside in between.

The British Isles compacts a whole load of varied cultural experiences into one very small place.    On the flight from Dublin I was challenged to understand my Irish seat mates, my cousins are Scottish and we also traveled to Wales which while only a short car ride seemed like a whole new world.  Colloquialisms and variant vocabulary use kept my kids entertained and grilling their similarly aged cousins about ‘what do you call that?’

Welsh language on every sign.

At Camp Runoia we relish the opportunity to spend a few weeks living together and sharing our days with friends from around the country and the world.  Cultural diversity provides us all with an opportunity to connect with people from places which may be very different to our own home.  At Camp Runoia we typically hire a number of counselors from European countries who are part of the J1 visa ‘cultural exchange program’ the goal being for them to experience a traditional American summer camp while sharing their language, culture and traditions.

Sharing national anthems on the 4th of July at Camp Runoia.

Our campers come from a variety of countries outside of the US including traditionally Mexico, Spain and France and in more recent years even as far away as China and Vietnam. Bringing the world to camp helps broaden our vision, embrace new friends and then often gives us the opportunity and courage to expand our own horizons.  We will be camp friends for always no matter the geographic location or language barriers.

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