Cambridge, Minnesota—The 24th annual Swedish Language and Culture Day Camp at the West Riverside Historic Site near Cambridge, Minnesota played host to enthusiastic children in mid-August. The Isanti County Historical Society sponsors the camp, which attracts participants from the Twin Cities and east central Minnesota.
Camp director Valorie Arrowsmith says, “We use many strategies to help children learn language, and we try to accommodate all learning styles. Kinesthetic activities are especially popular at the camp setting. A reading strategy called Direct Instruction Reading, used in Minnesota public schools, was also employed to teach participants how to decode in Swedish.”

Campers rotated through daily language and craft classes, plus they had large group activities to begin and end each day. Tips Promenad was one activity. A traditional meal with table cloth, candles and flowers was another. Craft activities featured a hand carved wooden majstång for each camper.

The “phrase of the day” incorporated frequently used Swedish phrases such as “Hur mår du idag?” At the end of each day den hemliga ledaren, who had been observing and listening, declared which participant had spoken the most Swedish. Everyone then walked through a receiving line, in which they exchanged firm Nordic style handshakes with camp staff and won prizes for their efforts. The person using the most Swedish earned an extra gift.

Family and friends attended a final program where campers showed examples of what they learned through readings, songs and games. The audience was also invited to participate in song games such as “Morsgrisar är vi allihopa.”

Kathy Olson, Arrowsmith, Morfar Mike Johnson and Riana Reis were the teachers. Reis had been a participant in the past and has since attended the Concordia Language Village Swedish program for four years honing her skills in Swedish. Morfar Mike is a local Mora-based woodcarver who spends time each year creating a new hand-carved object for campers to decorate. Arrowsmith is one of two licensed K-12 Swedish language teachers in Minnesota.

For more information about Swedish language programs contact the ICHS at (763) 689-4229. Folks interested in language learning in a residential setting can visit, where there are week-long and weekend programs for adults and families in October and April. Next year’s camp dates in Cambridge are August 11-15, 2014 at the West Riverside Historic Site, two miles west and north of Cambridge. Children ages 5-13 are invited for a five day camp, and pre-school children, ages 4-5 may join the camp for three days.

By Valorie Arrowsmith