Happy Campers: ‘J’ Hosts 22 Youth During Annual Summer Camp


Summer campers were excited to learn taiko – traditional Japanese drumming. (Photo by Catherine Dodd)

STORY BY CATHERINE DODD

The fifth annual summer camp at the JCCCW has come to an end, and fun times were had by all! This year was the JCCCW’s biggest camp yet, with 22 campers from grades 2-8!

Students prepared their own bento boxes. (Photo by Catherine Dodd)

The week-long camp focused on Japanese language and culture. Each day began with Japanese language classes, during which the campers learned how to say everything from “hello” to what they like to eat and drink. The afternoons were filled with a variety of cultural activities. Campers participated in martial arts, taiko drumming, an assortment of crafts, and even created their own bento lunches!

As a summer intern, I got to know each of the campers and was able to talk with some of them in depth about their experiences. Here are the stories of three enthusiastic kids who loved their experience at camp.

Lior is 13 years old. He already knew a bit about Japan from the large amount of anime he has watched. He loves learning about other countries and is fascinated by the differences in the languages, peoples, and cultures. Lior enrolled in camp because he wanted to learn more about Japan. In fact, he hopes to participate in a gap year in Japan before he goes to college! He is especially interested in spending time in Tokyo because there is so much to see and do. When I told him about the time I spent in Kyoto, he got really excited and now wants to visit the ancient capital, too!

Sula is 7 years old. Like Lior, she really wants to visit Japan one day. Sula already knew some Japanese before coming to camp this summer. In fact, she has taken Japanese Language School classes at the JCCCW and is already up to the intermediate level! She loved participating in kamishibai, a traditional form of Japanese street theater and storytelling. All of the campers created illustrations for a kamishibai story to be performed at their graduation ceremony. Sula volunteered to help perform the story and did a fantastic job!

From left to right: Lior, Sula, and Alex. (Photos by Catherine Dodd)

Alex is 9 years old. He attended camp last summer and was really excited to come back this year! One of his favorite activities last year was dressing up in yukata, a traditional Japanese garment worn in the summer that looks like a casual kimono. Alex even owns his own yukata with a lion on the back. He enjoyed all of the many activities at camp this year and would love to spend more time at the JCCCW. He really wants to explore Hosekibako, our resale shop showcasing Japanese items that date as far back as World War II!

These 3 campers are a good representation of the excitement for Japanese language and culture that all of the 22 campers shared. They signed up for camp wanting to make friends while learning all they could about Japan. Some of them were from Seattle and some of them travelled from different states to join us. A few campers returned for their second year, and by the end of week, many decided that they want to come back next year! While the kids enjoyed all of the activities and had a difficult time picking favorites, highlights included Japanese language class, bento making, and taiyaki making.

As a JCCCW intern, I have a true passion for Japan. I studied  abroad in the country for 4 months and made many wonderful Japanese friends. I was thrilled to learn that many of the campers want to visit Japan someday. All 22 of them helped make the camp a big success, and we at the JCCCW are very grateful to their families for allowing them to join us for a week of fun, learning, and fond memories.