First Timers Information | Concordia Language Villages

First Timers Information

I’m a first time parent—what should I know?

First of all, you should know how excited and happy we are that your child is joining us for language learning and fun this summer! But we also know that Concordia Language Villages is a program that is unique in the United States. Here are a few things that might be helpful to know, going into your first year at CLV.

How to contact us:

We are here to answer any of your questions, both in the lead-up to camp, and during camp itself. You can reach the summer programs registration office at or 1-800-222-4750 ext. 1. That office is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Central time, Monday through Friday and from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays during the summer while camp is in session. The registration office is a great place to start with any questions—if they do not know the answer, they will connect you with someone who does!

Village vocabulary:

You may have noticed that we have a lot of terms specific to our program. Here is a short breakdown of some common terms you may see used on our website, and that will be used at camp

  • Villager: The student participants in the Village.
  • Village: We call our communities of learners and teachers Villages. Each Village is dedicated to a single language (except for Mar e Floresta, our Portuguese village, which shares a location with our Spanish village at Cass Lake). Our camps are all located in Minnesota, in a rural area, with a beachfront and woods. You can see that in the names—each Village has a name that translates roughly to “Lake of the Woods,” like El Lago del Bosco, Salolampi or Sup sogŭi Hosu. We do have a few exceptions, like Al-Waha or “The Oasis,” our Arabic village.
  • Site: We offer some languages at multiple sites, depending on camp size and enrollment. If you are sending a villager to a French or Spanish program, you will want to pay close attention to which site they are signed up for! Our main site is located north of Bemidji, Minn., on Turtle River Lake. We also have various camps and resort centers throughout central Minnesota that are transformed into Villages during the summer.
  • Deans: The directors of each Village. They are on-site and in charge of the Village, staff and curriculum, handling emergencies and communication with villager families as well as the administrative office.
  • Village Names: Staff and villagers select culturally-appropriate names to use while they are at the Villages. You will see the deans’ Village names italicized between their first and last names (Emily Kajsa Pyenson). We often refer to staff by their Village names. We always refer to villagers by their Village names (except when corresponding with family members).
  • Target Language: The language being learned and spoken at each Village is the “target language.” There are 15 languages taught at the Villages: Arabic, Chinese, Danish, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish.

How much of the target language does my child need to know—and if they don’t know any, how will they understand what’s going on?

The Villages are designed to be fun and accessible to campers who have never before studied the language, so there is no minimum amount your child need to know to learn and have fun! Any language study your child can do before camp is wonderful, and can be a leg up on the first day of camp. If this isn’t possible, please know that we have been running language immersion summer camps since 1961, and we’ve developed a lot of techniques to convey meaning even through a language barrier. We will be using props, gestures, signs, and other methods to convey meaning. Our health centers, however, operate in English, so we can be sure that campers know exactly what is going on concerning their health and safety.

What if my child is already well on their way to speaking the language? Will they be bored?

In a word—no! Our counselors are all accomplished in the target language and have been deemed ready to teach it in their interview with the dean. Approximately 1/5th to 1/3rd of our staff are native speakers of the target language, so we are able to challenge language learners who are quite advanced. Expect your more advanced camper to come home with an expanded vocabulary, more familiarity with idiom, and a repertoire of folk songs to sing in the shower (all of this is true for our beginning campers as well)!

What’s your cell phone and electronics policy?

We are an unplugged camp, so we will hold cell phones, gaming devices, and other electronics with internet connectivity in the camp office until your villager returns. Four week villagers will receive their cell phones back at the halfway point of camp, when they go in to town to do laundry. You can expect them to call between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning, depending on their Village’s weekend schedule.

How will I be in touch with my child?

We think that summer camp is a perfect time for children to rediscover the art of the letter. We recommend sending stamped, addressed envelopes along with stationary and writing supplies, though stamps and stationary will be available in the camp store as well. Please note, because of our beautiful rural setting, mail takes a few days longer to arrive than it would coming out of a larger metropolitan area.

Parents are very encouraged to send physical letters as well—mailing a letter a few days before camp starts can ensure that it arrives in the first few days of camp—but there is also an email portal that you can use to send messages to your villager. You can find more about this email portal here

What else should I know?

We’ll admit, there’s a lot of ground to cover! We’ve put together our Parent Information Hub together to answer as many questions as possible. We recommend taking a look around that hub, and the rest of our website, for more information. We also have a parent Facebook group that is great for connecting with other families before camp and sharing advice. If you aren’t on Facebook, don’t worry! Nothing posted there is vital, and we’ll always use your email or phone number to contact you, not Facebook.

If there’s anything we didn’t cover, or if you’d just like to talk to a real person, the summer registration office can be reached at or 1-800-222-4750 ext. 1. We hope to hear from you soon!