“Call me Barb.” I said as the kids arrived at Camp Longbridge. It was Halloween weekend according to Kate, and we were going to do it big—pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, bobbin’ for apples, and a haunted cellar!
On Friday afternoon, the adventure began when I met Anna at the Hauptbahnhof to make our way to Switzerland. We had both applied to be camp counselors at Longbridge, where Swiss German kids go to practice their English language and develop a sense of English-speaking cultures.
With only euros in our pockets, we struggled to buy our bus tickets to Langenbruck—Switzerland is not on the euro, but the franc. So, slowly but surely we made it to Longbridge. It is breathtaking—an old white house surrounded by the Swiss countryside and mountains, dairy cows grazing freely with bells around their necks. The weekend was off to a good start. After a pizza dinner with our fellow counselors, we dove right in. We picked new names—the kids do it, too, as an immersion tactic. Barb and Molly we were… we are, technically, since we plan to attend again in December!
The days were jam packed with activities and eating and English speaking. As counselors, we make sure that the kids feel entirely immersed in English. We pretend that we don’t know a lick of German—which isn’t so far off because of the Swiss-German dialect. The kids are encouraged to speak English as much as possible and it’s an absolute blast playing four square and making friendship bracelets. Each counselor leads a small language group to further develop the campers’ vocab and grammar, too.
In my language group, I really recognized my own struggles with navigating a new language. I spoke to one camper about her travels to Greece last holiday. She told me about the beaches, and we marveled about feta cheese, but as I got up for a second serving of pumpkin soup, I heard her speaking to the other campers about her trip in German. I really saw my own weakness in that moment—switching into English whenever I get excited because I don’t have a firm grasp on German. I don’t have a handle on the nuances of the language, of the subtle differences in adjectives. But, I’ll continue listening and try to pursue speaking even further. I know that I’ll start to see results when I stop hesitating, so here’s to diving right in.
Like the kids at Longbridge, I need to take advantage of this immersion. Here’s to curiosity, to learning, and to communicating… in English and in German.
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<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">Hallo! I am Haley Wilhelm, a Junior at Scripps College from the Midwest. I enjoy reading, writing, traveling, and most of all, eating! I can't wait to explore all that Freiburg has to offer, as well as many other European cities during my academic year abroad.</span></p>