A Douglaston teenager took a simulated trip to Spain this summer by attending a Minnesota camp where instructors and attendees only speak Spanish.
Victoria Gerbavsits, 16, was issued a passport, exchanged currency and adopted a new name during her visit from July 16 to Aug. 11 at El Lago del Bosque, a simulated Spanish camp in Bemidji, Minn.
She said she learned a lot during the immersive Spanish-language camp.
“I loved camp and had a great experience,” said Gerbavsits, who is a junior at Benjamin N. Cardozo High School. “We were able to learn Spanish through different activities while also learning about the culture and traditions of Spain and Spanish speaking countries.”
She said the camp entailed not only Spanish language classes, but also courses with cultural themes, such as one in which she studied Miguel de Cervantes’s “Don Quixote” and another during which she and her classmates produced a movie.
Upon her arrival at the camp, she received a “passport.”
“When we arrived at El Lago del Bosque, it was as if we were entering a Spanish country,” she said. “We have to go through customs, which is where we chose our Spanish names. It was difficult to choose from the long list of possible names, but I chose Dalila.”
Then, she was assigned to a cabin designed with Spanish architecture.
Some of the evening activities included special meals, dancing in the camp’s plaza and learning about arts and crafts, customs and traditions. Attendees also played sports during their stay, such as soccer, badminton, basketball and volleyball.
Gerbavsits, who also speaks some French, said she wants to continue to develop her Spanish language skills.
“I am not fluent in Spanish as of now, but I want to continue my studies to hopefully get there,” she said.
Other students at the camp hailed from New York, Minnesota, Florida, California, New Jersey, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Washington, Texas and the British Virgin Islands.
Alison McAndrew, 15, a Townsend Harris High School junior from Douglaston, was also among the camp’s attendees.
The camp is operated through Concordia Language Villages, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary. Concordia places students in 15 villages in Minnesota where different languages are spoken. An estimated 11,000 students take part in the programs each year.