German Immersion Camp 2019

Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center, June 16 - 22

GASA Camp June 2019: Der Zauberlehrling

By Eric Goldston (17) and Kai Levato (15)

As of six years, Orange, CA, has been the home of the GASA Sommer Camp, a camp where children of various ages go to immerse themselves in the German language and culture. The GASA Sommer Camp of 2019 brought in young German learners from everywhere in the US and even Mexico. Kids left camp excited about the German language and willing to share all of the amazing experiences they had.

Having fun in the sun!

The camp is located in the Irvine Ranch Outdoor Education Center, with two bunkhouses for all of the campers. This center offers children the opportunity to explore new and engaging outdoor activities, which GASA rotates every year. This year, campers were given the opportunity to go swimming, learn to use a bow and arrow, and zipline.  In addition, one of the highlights was a visit from Dr. Barbara Hendricks, member of the German Parliament (Bundestag), and Kathrin Steinbrenner, Vice Consul of the German Consulate. They were given a tour of the camp and were allowed to watch students learn and having fun in the classroom and out.

German Parliament member Dr. Barbara Hendricks looks on as GASA President Rita Reiff presents Vice Consul Kathrin Steinbrenner with hand-made soaps created by some of this year’s campers.

This year, we had two different themes campers explored during the week: environmental protection and the works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, most notably, “Der Zauberlehrling”

Along with all the learning, making seed bombs and soap, baking and singing, the GASA Camp hosted multiple events to give campers a space to let out their excitement and energy. The first of these was a water fight and later during the week a dance; with great tunes and greater memories, it remains a camp favorite. 

Camper Congo!

Using ‘Euros’ they were given during the week of class, campers were able to buy candy and toys at the annual Jahrmarkt. After the Jahrmarkt, a pizza party was held, leading into the final performance of the students’ themed plays and skits. Highlights of this included an entirely student written and directed play, a parody of “God’s Plan” by Drake with the words from Der Zauberlehrling, and a song and dance combination performance. The finale was a camp fire and s’mores, welcomed by young and old.

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By the end of the week, the campers were worn out and ready to go home. However, they all agreed that they wouldn’t trade this experience for the world. Victor, one of the campers, had to say, “bruh [sic], because of the experiences I had at this camp, I feel more fluent in German and knowledgeable about a lot of the German culture.” 

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Multilingualism is the norm in most of the world and we believe that children who speak and write more than one language will be better prepared for life in the 21st century with its growing global economy. The best way to master another language is to start learning at an early age.

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