The Ridgway’s Story: Family Camps | Concordia Language Villages

The Ridgway's Story: Family Camps

Jack Ridgway

Many parents recognize the importance of exposing their children to language at an early age.  But what do you do when you are not quite ready to send your young child away to camp?  You do what the Ridgway family did and attend family camp! 

“My son Jack and I first attended Sen Lin Hu Family Weekend in January 2008," says Dawn Ridgway, villager parent. "We loved it for so many reasons that we attended Family Week and Family Weekends during 2009, 2010 and 2011. Jack was only in first grade so the chance to experience campu with him was very appealing. My sister had attended the Spanish Language Camp 25 or 30 years ago so when I was interested in Chinese for my son, Concordia was the first place I checked."

What was Dawn’s first impression of Concordia Language Villages? “Gratitude, simply because it was winter, it was dark and we had gotten a bit lost," she says. "But seriously, the staff received us very warmly, and it was like they were our friends who had invited us to stay at their cabin.”

Dawn remembers the first time she realized Jack had a gift for language. “One night, during the first Family Week, Jack asked for a pen and paper.  He had memorized the characters for boy and girl from the restroom signs. He was going into second grade. That was when I knew he had a gift for language. Jack was fortunate to attend Yinghua Academy that same year. He cannot comprehend a time when he didn’t know Chinese. He loves the culture, the camp experience and being able to be immersed in the language. “

Dawn says the best part of family camp is building relationships with other families and staff as well as participating in the many activities. “We enjoyed getting to know the other families and performing in the talent show. Jack learned to play xiang qi (Chinese chess). During the later years, when Jack’s Chinese was stronger, he developed good relationships with the counselors.”

After attending family camp for several years, Jack was ready to attend the Language Villages alone. In 2012 Jack attended a one week camp. Dawn says she wished Jack had been “brave enough” to go for two weeks. This summer Jack will attend a two week session at Sen Lin Hu.

Dawn misses the time spent with Jack at family camp. But she knows that the time spent together laid a strong foundation for Jack and the many adventures at Concordia Language Villages in the years to come. “Jack was very proud to receive his 5 year medal and has it hanging in his room. Concordia Language Villages is a treasure and I believe an important investment in Jack’s future. I could talk endlessly about our experiences.”