I'm a First Time Parent, What Should I Expect?
Published: May 25, 2017
Sending your child away to summer camp for the first time can be scary – especially if they’ve never been away from home before! We know that many first time Eltern (parents) don’t know what to expect, so we went to our staff to see what they think is most important for you to know!
Even if your child does not speak any (or much German), they’ll be fine! Your child’s fellow Villagers will help them to acclimate to the Kultur (culture) and figure out what is going on. While we have many new Villagers every year, we also have many campers who are returning, oftentimes for the fifth time (or more!). Not speaking Deutsch (German) doesn’t mean you don’t get to do anything at Waldsee – it just means you get to learn even more!
But how will my child know what to do without feeling overwhelmed? Waldsee is an immersion program, which means all the counselors will speak German to the Villagers, but we do know that it can be kind of scary or disorienting for kids (and parents!), especially on the first day. That’s why we do our best to use signs, drawings, and LOTS of Bewegungen (movements) to help Villagers understand what is going on. Everyone was new to Waldsee at some point, even our staff members! There will be lots of people who first time Villagers can turn to for help and encouragement. Your Villager’s house counselor is an especially good resource for your child to turn to. We encourage the house counselors to check in with each Villager every day to make sure they are comfortable and froh (happy). This is often done through a Haustreff (house meeting) each night, where everyone in the Haus (cabin) comes together to talk about their day.
What is this I see about no cell phones allowed? Why will I not be able to call my child? One of the things we pride ourselves on at Waldsee, and in all of the language villages, is our full immersion program. We’ve found that Handys (cell phones) tend to distract from the program and can hinder the language learning process. While you may think your child absolutely cannot live without their cell phone/tablet/music, you’d be surprised! Most Villagers forget about their phone once they start talking to other Villagers, making new friends and reconnecting with old friends. We also want to make sure that no one loses a $600 phone somewhere in the Wald (woods) or the See (lake)!
Then how will I hear from my child!? I want to make sure they’re ok! We are BIG fans of the good old-fashioned Brief (letter)! Many parents will send a letter a couple of days before camp starts so that their child will get a letter from home on the first full day. This can alleviate some stress from both the Villager AND parent! Parents are also welcome to send emails to the camp account. These emails are printed every afternoon and distributed to campers that day. While your child will not be able to email back, they CAN write you a letter back! The Laden (store) does sell Briefmarken (stamps), but many parents find it easier to send pre-addressed, pre-stamped Briefumschläge (envelopes) with their Villager to help guarantee that Oma (grandma) and Mama (mom) get those letters.
My child has a birthday and I want to make sure it’s special – can I send a cake? We absolutely LOVE Geburtstagfeiern (birthday celebrations) at Waldsee. We make note of each child with a birthday during the session and make sure they get a homemade Kuchen (cake) to share with their Haus and a special birthday Lied (song). So don’t worry about sending treats for your Villager – we are oftentimes not able to give them to the child, due to strict rules regarding allergies. Any homemade goods sent must include a complete ingredient list, and if there are any allergies in the Villager’s Haus, they will not be able to take those treats to the cabin to share.
It’s been a week (or two) and I haven’t heard from my child – should I call to make sure they’re ok? In this case, no news is usually good news! If you don’t hear from your child within the first week, that’s probably a GOOD sign – it means they’re adapting to the program and making friends! Waldsee is a safe and friendly environment where many Villagers are on their own for the first time, with the freedom to make decisions for themselves. We have a very full Tagesplan (daily schedule) each day, and many Villagers are having so much fun, that they often forget to write home! We do our best to post pictures to the Waldsee Flickr account every day, so be sure to check that out to get a glimpse into your Villager’s day – we promise they’re doing just fine!
Phew, ok, I feel better about that now. But how much money will my child need while at camp? Villagers get two chances a day to purchase things at the Laden (store) and Café Einbeck (candy store) with their Euros. The amount of money your child needs will largely depend on how much you think they will want to buy! Villagers are generally allowed to take out 4€/day (about $6) from the Bank to buy small items. However, if they are interested in purchasing something bigger, such as a Bärchen (small bear), T-shirt, or Pulli (sweatshirt), they can request a Scheck (check) from the Bank, which allows them to make larger purchases without having to lug around 20€ in coins! Typically, we recommend $40-$50 for one week Villagers, $100 for two week Villagers, and $200-$250 for four week Villagers. Keep in mind that if your child is with us for four weeks, they will spend one free weekend in town, where they will need money for laundry, one dinner, and activities such as bowling and the movie theatre. If your child will also be with us for Internationaler Tag (International Day), they may also want some additional money to buy treats and souvenirs from the other Villages! If you will be picking your child up in person at the end of their session, you can also purchase items from the Laden and Café in dollars on Abschiedstag (closing day). We also accept all major credit cards on this day!
While sending your child away to camp for the first time can be a stressful experience, it is also one of the best parts of the summer for many Villagers. Our Villagers return year after year for a reason – because they love Waldsee! There is no time like the present to start your child’s language learning adventure. Not registered for Sommer 2017 yet? Head to our website and get your child set up to start living the language!