New Plans are under way for Camp OFLA 2014!
Dr. Lori Winne/Co-director, Camp OFLA
Camp OFLA 2014 will celebrate its tenth year this summer! Camp OFLA is a one-week elementary residential camp in Ohio sponsored by the Ohio Foreign Language Association! Camp OFLA directors, teachers and counselors are excitedly planning new activities to celebrate this tenth year, so watch for news at www.campofla.org!
So what is Camp OFLA? How and why did it begin? What happens during camp?
Camp OFLA began in the summer of 2005 as Ohio’s contribution to the ACTFL “Discover Languages” campaign. Cheryl Ames, the OFLA Early Language Chairperson, and Lori Winne, OFLA ELL committee member, were the first co-directors. Dr. Winne continues to serve the camp as a co-director.
Over the years the camp has offered Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Russian and Spanish. The camp was originally designed for 4th through 6th graders and was eventually expanded to 4th through 8th graders. Some campers attended 5 years in a row and are now applying to be high school counselors. While many campers take one or two years of the same language, most like to experience a different language each year.
In the beginning Mrs. Ames received camper applications by mail and conducted business via telephone. Today, thanks to co-director and OFLA Board member Lucas Hoffman, the www.campofla.org website answers lots of initial questions for parents and teachers, posts current news and allows parents to pay online. The Camp OFLA Facebook page allows parents to see photos daily as their youngsters attended camp. Word of mouth is still the best promoter of Camp OFLA, however, and new campers are often relatives or classmates of past campers. Teachers on the OFLA listserve also help promote the camp!
Foreign Language teachers have also helped recommend high school counselors for the camp. Juniors and seniors who have had 3-4 years of the language are most often recruited and sometimes return during their college years. For Camp OFLA 2013 over 45 high school students applied for 8 counselor slots. Some students volunteer their time as community service hours for their school; otherwise they are paid a small stipend. High school counselors are given lots of responsibility to chaperone the campers and most of all must speak their second language with the campers.
The daily schedule involves two 1 ½ hour language lessons, but cooking sessions, arts and crafts, song and dance sessions, hikes and mealtimes are language intensive as well. High school counselors read bedtime stories and rehearse vocabulary to and from cabins with their campers. Evening activities are multilingual so that all the campers participate together in scavenger hunts, multilingual Bingo, Hollywood Squares, etc. The problem solving skills are really put into action during these fun times.
Teachers for each language come from all around the state. Some have had elementary classroom experience. The sharing that takes place between teachers of the various languages is fun, exhilarating and helpful during the regular school year as well. Teachers not only share ideas for songs and games and fun camp activities, they also learn elementary techniques and methodology which they can adapt to their H.S. students.
Camp OFLA is a residential camp. The Templed Hills campsite has kept its $475 costs the same for Camp OFLA for about the last 5 years. Most of each camper’s expense goes to room and board. OFLA offers scholarships for campers that have helped with at least half of the expense. Scholarship information is available on the www.campofla.org website.
We have come a long way since 2005! Former campers have become high school camp counselors. Parents have advocated for after school foreign language programs in their districts. Two former high school counselors have become foreign language teachers! Currents teachers have learned new strategies and activities! Camp OFLA 2014 will continue to serve elementary, middle school and high school students and World Language teachers in fun and exciting ways!