Published: October 27, 2019
When campers enter the Bahnhof, they officially leave die englische Zone (the English zone). The first step: picking a German name from the Namensbaum (name tree). The second step: visiting Schmuggelwarenkontrolle (contraband checkpoint). Say Auf Wiedersehen to English-language reading and listening materials -- the immersion experience is ready to begin!
The Waldsee German immersion experience is about more than speaking German, it’s also about hearing, reading, and writing in German. When campers arrive at Waldsee, we collect any English-language books and magazines, which allows campers to explore the plethora of options in the Bibliothek (library) and practice reading in German. American snacks also count as Schmuggelwaren (contraband), and campers have the opportunity to try a variety of German, Swiss, and Austrian snacks during Pause (break) at Cafe Einbeck. Cell phones and electronic music devices also count as Schmuggelwaren, which let campers enjoy the foreign language music during Diskos (discos) and Feste (festivals) that they may not get to hear anywhere else.
The Schmuggelwarenkontrolle team collects camper’s “contraband” in a bag labelled with their Waldsee name and Haus (house), and they are kept in a secure location before being returned on the final day of the session. One counselor has the ever-important responsibility of being the Schmuggelwarenmeister (contraband master) to make sure everyone’s belongings are properly labelled and collected. The Schmuggelwarenmeister also charges everyone’s electronics before the final day of their session, so that campers are able to use their devices and communicate with loved ones immediately upon leaving -- especially those with long bus, car, or plane rides home!
While some campers may disagree, going through Schmuggelwarenkontrolle is not a punishment; rather, it truly enriches the immersion experience. By limiting exposure to the English language and American culture in a variety of different ways (music, books, food, etc.), campers can get the most out of their limited time at Waldsee and are better prepared when they are in a German-speaking country, whether for vacation, study abroad, or even work!
Not having their cell phones not only improves the immersion experience, but allows campers to try new activities, like camping, canoeing, soccer, and more while focusing on building friendships with fellow campers. Your campers are still reachable through the Post (mail), and for urgent matters, parents and guardians can directly call our business office to be put in contact with their child.
Get ready to leave die englische Zone in Summer 2020! We can’t wait to see you, whether it’s your first time at Waldsee or coming back after decades for our Alumni Weekend, July 17-19!