Waldsee family week for parents: what to expect, with pictures!

This post will avoid almost everything that makes Waldsee really special (i.e., the German immersion experience) and instead focus on little details about the practicalities of daily life for a family in a summer camp environment. Knowing this stuff up front would have helped me plan and pack for my first Concordia Language Villages stay. I wrote more about my top concerns before first attending family week at Waldsee here.

Please excuse me for pictures recorded on an old iPad by an unskilled photographer. Hopefully a little bit of pictorial advice, however amateurish, will go a long way toward showing a newcomer what to expect.

Concordia Language Villages transportation

It’s about 215 miles, or 3 ½ hours of driving time, from Bemidji, MN to MSP (Minneapolis St.Paul International Airport.) Will you—or your child camper—be making this trek on an old yellow school bus?

Not in my experience! We rode in a comfortable, air conditioned charter bus from BJI (Bemidji Regional Airport) to camp, and again from camp to MSP. There was a staff member aboard responsible for paperwork and supervising the kids traveling alone, distinct from the professional driver. The bus even had seatbelts.

Where will we sleep?

As an adult with a health issues that sometimes affects my mobility, I was a little nervous about the sleeping arrangements. I went to summer camp, and some of the beds were  iffy even for a kid. I knew I wouldn’t have to climb into an upper bunk because I could insist my son do that if we were sharing one bunk bed, but everything else was a potentially miserable question mark.

CSV Waldsee bunkbed nook

Two sets of bunk beds in each of two walled nooks in Schwarzwaldhaus

The beds were fine. The mattresses were about six inches thick and covered in utilitarian but hygienic vinyl, and they were supported by solid wooden bunks that didn’t squeak, sway, or sag. I wouldn’t have said no to an egg crate topper, but the firm, simple bed didn’t cause me any pain. The provision of a reading lamp above every bunk was an unexpected luxury we sure didn’t enjoy at my childhood camps.

Privacy was provided, in our case, with a set of bed-sheet curtains hung to partition a set of four bunk beds in a walled nook. This space was entirely ours as a family of two, mother and son. There was another mom with two kids (one boy, one girl) staying upstairs in the same room. I felt I had total visual privacy for changing, and sufficient privacy overall for sleeping, but I do wear earplugs when I travel. We went to bed earlier than the family upstairs, and I hardly even knew they were there.

CSV Waldsee Schwarzwaldhaus sleeping room

Schwarzwaldhaus two story bunk room, shared by two small families

These arrangements will vary a lot based upon how many members are in your family and their genders. I didn’t go inside anyone else’s sleeping room, but I saw peeks of very different set-ups through open doors around camp. Definitely, some families had private rooms with doors, so inquire with CLV about your own situation if you have questions.

Will we have to bathe in the lake?

There is hot running water at Waldsee, and the facilities were adequate for parental hygiene. There were even electrical outlets near the sinks for those dependent upon electric hair-styling appliances or toothbrushes.

The showers are about as primitive as modern plumbing in America gets, but they are separate curtained enclosures. I recommend bringing shower shoes, though the facilities were quite clean for a summer camp.

CSV Waldsee bathroom4CSV Waldsee bathroom3

Where can I get my morning coffee?

This was a particularly terrifying unknown for me. Summer camp villagers don’t have access to the staff coffee corner in the dining hall, but family week parents do. I believe coffee was available at every meal, not just breakfast, but I’m a once a day drinker, so follow up with CLV if you need reassurance. Tea things were here, too, but they ran out of English Breakfast during our week, so bring your own if you’re tea dependent like me.

CSV Waldsee dining hall coffee1

In the dining hall, close enough to sneak back for another cup during announcements, if necessary

Another great perk unique to family week was an early riser’s cafe with fresh baked pastries available before breakfast. I do wake up early, and I prefer to have a cup of tea right away, though I’m comfortable waiting for breakfast proper. Rising at five o’clock then waiting several hours before caffeination to share Frühstück with hoards of Villagers bellowing cheerful songs would be painful. Thankfully, there was no need. Parents of young children who get up with the birds should also hear this with glad hearts. There were even German cartoons playing on a laptop at the cafe to distract the little ones.

CSV Waldsee morning cafe

Cafe seating is outdoors so bring a sweater. That’s the coffee machine by the wall and those red things on the counter are mugs, ready and waiting. No photos of the pastries because we were too busy eating them!

Is there anything else you really want to know before you register for—or attend—Waldsee for the first time? Let me know in the comments and I’ll try to help!

6 thoughts on “Waldsee family week for parents: what to expect, with pictures!

  1. Thank you so much for these Waldsee posts! We are attending for the first time this year. It will be me with my 4 and 6 year olds. We are so excited.

    • Kate, danke! That’s exactly what I hoped to accomplish by the writing. 🙂

      Sprechen Sie Deutsch, Kate?
      Und die Kinder? Sprechen sie such deutsch?

      Some of my other posts detail my recent German practice ideas. First thing you do, download the song “Fliegerlied” and print out the words from MetroLyrics online. It was stuck in my head all week at Waldsee but I struggled to learn all the lyrics by ear alone. 🙂

  2. Thank you so much for these blog entries. My daughter (12) went to Waldsee this past year, but next year both my son (9) and I would like to join her. How did selecting activities work? She would quite like to participate in the same way she did this summer….she said there was a big circle and certain counselors said what they would do, how many participants, and then she chose. She does not want to be required to always hang with mom. I’ve called and asked the staff, but they are a bit vague like “you can figure out whats best when you arrive.” I’d love to guarantee her full days off ‘on her own’ with the other youth (unless I happen to pick the same activity).

    • I think your daughter will find she has plenty of choice of activities away from Mom. (The big difference: just quietly hanging out with family is always ANOTHER, alternate option during Family Week.)

      The process she described to you is pretty similar to how we chose our activities at Family Week, too. The counselors just indicated (in the big circle) that some activities were for kids only or adults only or both together, and I don’t remember any activity that *required* a guardian with a child. Counselors led these groups. (Speaking as a parent of a school aged child, specifically. There were no special preschool/infant babysitting activities to free up parents!)

      Depending upon your kids’ sibling dynamics, you could find the older one being annoyed by the younger always “following her” by choosing the same activities with her instead of you! My kids had some of that when we attended as a threesome instead of just Mom and the older one. My younger guy wanted to do what his older brother and friends did all the time. The older one was sometimes gracious and sometimes… *not*. Ahem. 🙂

    • Hi, I’ve now gone to Waldsee Family Camp for the past few years. Apparently I commented on here in the past. Choosing of the activities is exactly as.your daughter explained. You definitely do not need to hang together. In fact they have adult geared activities too like cooking or hiking. My kids were fully independent during the day…and even did the evening activities alone. We’d meet up for meals and bedtime. Dinner is the only meal you have to eat at your assigned table. The rest of the time, you can sit wherever..together or not. We have the best time!

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