Les Voyageurs takes place at our own poste on Turtle River Lake near Bemidji, Minn. There, you will take time to develop the skills needed to become a voyageur. You will find the life of a voyageur to be a busy and challenging one. Throughout the stay, you will concentrate on four main tasks of equal importance: speaking French, living in nature, building a community and studying the history of the voyageurs. While at camp, you will practice canoeing skills and learn essential camping skills, including cooking over a fire.
This summer, you can choose to attend a four-week high school credit program, or a two- or four-week enrichment session. All options provide immersion in French, learning about the historic culture of the French Voyageurs and building your outdoor and leadership skills.
Prefer to stay in a cozy cabin? French Lac du Bois is your choice!
Get ready for the rendezvous (gathering) at French Les Voyageurs! You become a voyageur as you canoe with your tent partners, learn to pitch a tent, split logs, cook over an open fire, paddle, tip and rescue a canoe, sing songs, learn jokes in French, prepare roubabou (traditional split pea stew), identify plants and carve a spoon or make moccasins. You may also build a fire, knead bannock (quick bread), danse la Bastringue (folk dance), meet fur traders, listen to the loons, watch the sunset with your friends by fire and fall asleep on the shore of lakes carved in the Canadian shield.
The daily schedule will also include arts and crafts, recreational swimming, working on projects, singing, campfires under the stars, gathering wood, cleaning the dishes and pumping potable water.
After five days at base camp, you and your brigade is ready for the "grand voyage" in Voyageurs National Park. You’ll pack up your sac étanche (waterproof bag), sac de couchage (sleeping bag) and chamallows (marshmallows) and set out along the historical route of the fur trade, traversing the southern lakes of Voyageurs.
As you engage in a five-day adventure, you’ll build and strengthen your skills in the French language while making new friends and paddling with (or against) the wind. One afternoon you’ll find yourself on the edge of two countries looking at a U.S.-Canada border marker, and the next morning you’ll be on the edge of history looking at pictographs left by early native dwellers of the land.
On the layover day you’ll be the sole guests of a parcel of forest. Later around the fire, the brigade will debrief one-another about their experiences. After twelve days as voyageurs, the castor (beaver) and aigle à tête blanche (bald eagle) will have become your friends. Back at basecamp, the last day is filled with stories, voyageurs-style competitions and a closing ceremony around the campfire.
From our flagship summer youth camps to family programs and adults-only sessions, Concordia Language Villages provides a lifetime of language learning and cultural adventure. Find the program that’s right for you!
Duration: 1 Week | 2 Weeks | 4 Weeks
Our flagship Language Village camps where language comes to life. A fully immersive cultural experience.
Duration: 2 Days | 3 Days | 1 Week
Fun and learning for the whole family (and friends)! Enjoy culturally immersive activities, meals and tailored learning.
Read more about our professional staff at Les Voyageurs, our French Voyageurs Language Village.
David Dahveed Benson is the French Les Voyageurs dean. Dahveed has been on staff since 1989, serving as dean since 1994, and was a villager at Lac du Bois for seven years. Dahveed is fluent in French and has studied Hausa, Swahili, Fulfulde, Yemba, Malgassy and Pidgin. Dahveed graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a B.A. in French and history. He earned his master’s degree in African history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dahveed currently lives in Bemidji, Minn., where he teaches World Geography at Bemidji Middle School, and coaches Model United Nations and Knowledge Bowl.
The Les Voyageurs permanent base campsite is located on Turtle River Lake, just a short distance from the French Language Village, Lac du Bois. Check-in for Les Voyageurs programs is at the Lac du Bois site.
Up to four villagers share a tent and staff share tents nearby. Canoes are used for tripping and transportation of food and supplies, as well as mail. All meals are prepared by villagers and staff over an open campfire. Groups portage their tents and supplies on five- to nine-day camping excursions.
Minnesota is typical of a continental climate. The North Woods of Minnesota experiences the widest variety of weather in the United States. Although summers are generally hot and humid, it is normal to experience rain showers, thunderstorms and cool nights. Summer temperatures average 85 F but can get down to 55 F. This program lives outdoors, regardless of the weather, so come packed and prepared to handle a wide variety of temperatures and dry or wet weather.
Need-based scholarships are available for French summer youth immersion sessions through the Passport Fund. Scholarships are based on a family’s adjusted gross income, number of dependents and the length of the session.
Additionally, the Minnesota Office of Higher Education offers a $1,000 stipend for Minnesota students who qualify for free or reduced lunch at school.
Concordia Language Villages staff may speak a Village language, creatively teach culture, work and play hard. They also develop skills and qualities that will make them excellent employees in any field.