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>Korean Culture Camp: Camp Choson

March 20, 2011

>We are so futunate. Here in the Twin Cities we have two local Korean Culture Camps to choose from and several more within a half-day’s drive. This is the KAAN Directory of Korean Culture Camps in the U.S. so you can find one near you.

For three years, Faith attended KCC or Korean Culture Camp Minnesota, a wonderful urban camp held on the campus of Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis. It was the first (and for a while, the only) Korean Culture Camp I had heard of near us. Faith really enjoyed KCC so we did, too.

The spring Mercy was old enough to attend Culture Camp (not the nursery) for the first time –the year she entered Kindergarten –a friend mentioned that she had heard of another camp, Camp Choson, in Hudson, Wisconsin. Both of our families live east of St. Paul and we had carpooled to KCC. The draw-back of KCC for us was the commute. Camp start and end times meant we had to commute in rush hour traffic both ways. So the prospect of a camp in Hudson had appeal; for us it was a reverse commute.

That summer, we tried Camp Choson instead of KCC and loved it. The programming was very similar to KCC. But instead of renting a school building, Choson rented a girl scout camp so Choson had a completely different, out-doorsy camp feel. There was a nice big air conditioned main building for opening and closing excercises and for meals. But campers got to go swimming in a pool, learn archery on a range, do Tae Kwon Do on the grass in the sunshine instead of a gym, and walk through the woods to gazbeboes designated for art, dance culture, language, identity etc.

Choson has a a few other unique features that appeal to us. The closing ceremonies where campers get to show guests their TKD, drumming, dance (pop culture & classical) and language skills are scheduled on Friday afternoon, the last day of camp, not Saturday, making the camp week a bit shorter. The week at both camps is so jam-packed with fun, learning, and friends that the slightly shorter week was better for my early-elementary aged kids. And at Choson, the daily opening activities are a family affair. While some parents drop their kids off and leave, most stay and participate with their children in the first 30-45 minutes of camp. Many stay the whole week and participate as volunteers.

Camp Choson has become a destination vacation for many families who drive in from several states away to spend the week in a hotel or a state park campsite with other families who do the same thing every year. The Camp is always held the week of the 4th of July, specifically because the extra day off work helps many families make camp a family vacation.

Speaking of staying overnight, another Choson distinctive is that starting in 7th grade, campers have the option to stay overnight for a week-long residence camp. 6th graders have the option of staying over one night to try it out. Faith will be in 6th grade this year and can hardly wait to spend her first night at camp!

Speaking of Faith (our daughter by birth) every culture camp I’ve investigated welcomes the non-Korean siblings of campers. It is interesting to see how the non-Korean kids work out their place in Korean cultural immersion and adoption-themed programming. Like it is fairly common that American girls like Faith don hanbok for the cultural performances. But a wonderful little tradition at Choson started a few years ago when a China-born sister of a Korean camper decided to wear her native dress instead of a hanbok for the final performance. Taking that cue, last year siblings from Ethiopia wore their native dress, too.

Which reminds me of a warning about Culture Camp: no matter where you choose to go, your kids will make friends they love to see every summer and if you spend any time volunteering at camp, you’ll make fast friends with other moms and dads. So try to investigate your options carefully before your kids are old enough to attend or you may find your decision is made by the friendships formed at the first camp you attend!

Witness to that fact: this year we are following Camp Choson to its new venue at Girl Scout Camp Lakamaga on Big Marine Lake just east of Forest Lake, Minnesota. (The Girl Scouts sold the camp in Hudson Choson had been renting.) Purely considering proximity, KCC in Minneapolis is now the closer camp for us. But in the past two years at Choson, Faith, Mercy and Hope have made so many good friends that we will follow them anywhere!

Priority registration (no late fee) for Camp Choson runs through March 31, 2011. If your kids are still too young for camp this year, stay tuned. I hope to be able to announce a special open-house morning during Camp Choson week (July 4-8, 2011) when prospective families are welcome to stop in and check us out :).

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One Comment leave one →
  1. March 23, 2011 9:26 am

    >I've heard so many wonderful things about Camp Choson. I can't wait until my boys are ready to start going!

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