Opening Day: What to Expect

Arrival Time

  • Parent bringing child: Monday from 2-4:30 pm at village
  • Children traveling independently with our transportation service, please see this page for details.

Villagers should arrive between 2-4:30 p.m. on the beginning Monday of each session. Allow between one and two hours to go through customs and help your child settle into his or her cabin. If you are dropping off children at various sites and are worried about arrival times, please contact us ahead of time. After arriving to the villages, your camper will jump right in to language immersion!

Join two of our credit villagers at Lac du Bois - Bemidji as they walk you through what to expect on opening day. (Note: our villagers are using English to help explain what you will experience, but during your actual experience you will hear our staff speaking and interacting with villagers and parents in the target language.) Or, check out this Waldsee blog post about opening day.


In order to simulate and establish an authentic cultural atmosphere, villagers go through customs on the first day of their session. During customs, their Village Passport is verified and stamped. They choose a Village name, receive their cabin assignment according to age and gender, and have their proficiency in the language determined. In addition, villagers are screened by our healthcare staff.

Health Screening

A health screening is conducted on Opening Day. (Maybe have more of an explanation here? I often have parents ask what this health screening consists of)

Screening for Contraband

“Contraband” is all items that detract from the immersion experience in the target language or violate Village policies. Cell Phones, electronics, and books that are not in the target language count as contraband. All luggage is checked for contraband items. Contraband is held and returned at the end of the session. Perishable items such as food may not be returned. 

Currency Exchange

As part of customs, villagers exchange their U.S. currency at the Village bank for the currency of the Village. It is policy that villagers deposit all spending money in the bank for safekeeping. Villagers are able to withdraw appropriate amounts from their account daily. Village currency rates are posted at the Village banks. 

Euros are used at multiple Village sites.

Because foreign currency is very difficult and expensive to procure, we require villagers to exchange all foreign currency for U.S. dollars at the end of the session and not to take foreign coins home as souvenirs.


Transportation Options

We have charter transportation services available. 


Arriving Healthy

Villagers are expected to arrive healthy and able to participate in the program. Call the Village dean if your child is ill or becomes ill on the way to the Village. We reserve the right not to admit villagers who arrive ill or who have been exposed to communicable diseases.

Village Passport

Be sure to pack the Village Passport. All correspondence with us regarding your villager should contain the Village Passport number, which is located inside the passport, on all forms sent to your villager, and on the front of the Welcome Packet. U.S. citizens DO NOT need a real U.S. passport to attend the Villages in Minnesota.