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Living the Language with Your Haus

Published: November 18, 2019

When a villager first enters the Bahnhof on Ankunftstag (arrival day), campers choose their new Waldsee name and learn which Haus (house) they will be living in for their one-, two-, or four-week stay. Each Haus is named after a city in German-speaking Europe, from Haus Stuttgart to Haus Berlin to Haus Salzburg and Haus Zell am See, and villagers are assigned to a Haus based on age and gender. Each Haus typically consists of 10-15 villagers and 2-3 Betreuer (counselors), and there are lots of special activities and opportunities during the day to spend time together as a Haus.

A Haus is different from a Familie/Gesprächsgruppe, which are small language-learning groups based on age and language proficiency. Some villagers in a Haus may have already spent several summers at Waldsee, and others may be in a German-speaking environment for the very first time. Villagers who have spent more time at Waldsee and in other German-speaking areas can be great resources for first-time villagers and German speakers, who can help newcomers better understand the lay of the land at Waldsee and key German phrases to get through the day, especially when a new villager may be too shy to ask a counselor for help.

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After a long day spent with Familien/Gesprächsgruppen and with other participants in their chosen Veranstaltungsstunden (activity hours), evenings are a great time for members of each Haus to reconnect and bond with each other. Every night, seating at Abendessen (dinner) is organized hausweise (by house), with a designated table in the Gasthof with a Tischschild (table sign) for each Haus. After dinner, many of our Abendprogramme (evening programs) are team activities divided by Haus. Working together in a competitive or strategic environment toward a common goal is a great opportunity to strengthen the relationships between villagers in each Haus. There is a lot of Haus pride developed in the course of just a couple of weeks!

Every night after getting ready for bed, it’s time for one of the most important parts of the day: Hauskreis (house circle). The entire Haus comes together to debrief on the events of the day. One of our favorite ways to debrief is by asking for everyone’s gute Sache, schlechte Sache (good thing, bad thing), where each villager and counselor talks about both good and bad things that happened to them throughout the day. We challenge each villager to describe their gute Sache, schlechte Sache in German, with counselors helping fill in for words a villager may not know yet. We know it’s been a great day when most villagers in the Haus can’t think of a single schlechte Sache (other than the occasional Mückenstich - mosquito bite).

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One of the best opportunities for villagers in a Haus to get to know each other is on Hausabend (house evening). Instead of a typical Abendprogram, a Haus gets to have a pizza party wherever they want in Waldsee and do a special activity together. Villagers read a Speisekarte (menu) and call their order into the Küche (kitchen), and the Lehrlinge (high school apprentices) deliver the pizzas all across the camp. Some Häuser (houses) may go to the Kino to watch a German movie, have a Strandparty (beach party), play Brett- und Kartenspiele (board games and card games), or have a Spa Abend (spa night) together!

Get ready to meet your Haus and learn more German 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!

Franzi und Marika mit Haus

Have you spent nearly a decade or more at Waldsee over the last 60 years? We would love to hear from you for a future blog post! Please fill out this form here if you are interested.

Additionally, we are collecting and digitizing photos from alumni in honor of our 60th anniversary this summer. If you have any photos you would like to share (particularly from the 80s and 90s), please send them to betreuerschaft@gmail.com.