Summer Camp Archives - Eva Varga

July 23, 20151

Two things about birthday celebrations that remain consistent in every culture are songs and greetings. These are universal ways of honoring and sharing with others the special moment and the joy of the guest of honor. Did you realize, however, that the song is not the same in every culture?

Hurra for Deg @EvaVarga.netOne of the Norwegian traditions I like best is the singing of Hurra for Deg (Cheers for You),  the Norwegian birthday song. It was written by Margrethe Aabel Munthe (1860 – 1931). Though there are two verses, more often only the first verse is sung.

The kids are at heritage camp this week learning Norwegian and the traditional handcrafts of our heritage. This year, parents have been provided little glimpses of camp life via Facebook. I was delighted that one of the counselors shared a short video of some of the girls singing Hurra for Deg as they worked on their Rosemaling. While I am unable to share the video, it inspired me to share the lyrics with you.

Hurra for deg som fyller ditt år!
Ja, deg vil vi gratulere!
Alle i ring omkring deg vi står,
og se, nå vil vi marsjere,
bukke, nikke, neie, snu oss omkring,
danse for deg med hopp og sprett og spring,
ønske deg av hjertet alle gode ting!
Og si meg så, hva vil du mere?

Hurray for you for celebrating your birthday!
Yes, we congratulate you!
We all stand around you in a ring,
And look, now we’ll march,
Bow, nod, curtsy, we turn around,
Dance for you and hop and skip and jump!
Wishing you from the heart all good things!
And tell me, what more could you want?

Hurra for Deg is a lively tune and a lot of fun to sing. Consider adding a few dance movements for a more rousing version:

Everyone stands in a circle around the birthday honoree. Begin singing while you are standing in the ring.

When you come to “march”, then march all around the birthday child with high knee-lift, while looking at him/her.

On “Bow, nod, curtsy, we turn around”, make these movements wholeheartedly and with enthusiasm.

On “Dance for you, hop and skip and jump,” begin to dance in a circle around the birthday child. Try to make eye contact with him / her, as this gives attention.Continue the dance the rest of the song.

After the song is finished, deserves celebrating a real generous applause!

If you are interested, here’s the second verse:

Høyt våre flagg vi svinger. Hurra!
Ja, nå vil vi riktig feste!
Dagen er din, og dagen er bra,
men du er den aller beste!
Se deg om i ringen, hvem du vil ta!
Dans en liten dans med den du helst vil ha!
Vi vil alle sammen svinge oss så glad:
En av oss skal bli den neste!
Til å feste!

We wave our flags up high! Hurray!
Yes now we’ll really celebrate!
The day is yours, the day is great,
But you’re the best!
Look in the ring who you want to choose!
Dance a little dance with who you want to!
We’ll all turn around together so joyfully,
And one of us shall be the next – to celebrate!

July 19, 20141

My kids left for camp last weekend: two weeks in the hills of the Sierras with a group of kids they’ve not ever met, connected only by a shared heritage.

As they packed their bags before we left home, I gave each of them the summer camp journal I had labored so long on creating and showed them where they could write down the addresses of family and friends they could write while at camp.

“We would love to hear from you,” I’d said as I handed them stationery and postage stamps. From the looks they gave me, I knew not to expect very much. They, after all, are children of a digital age, wired to a device as if it were an extension of their body.

letters from campStill, one of the appeals of camp from my perspective is that such devices are forbidden. For two weeks my kids would be unplugged; forced to connect with others on a personal level. Investing their time to learn new skills and gain new experiences. If they want to reach out to us, they are forced to take pen to paper.

Sitting down to write a letter to share their reactions and camp anecdotes is time consuming. How do you communicate in the slower medium of the letter when you are used to constant contact, constant conversation, and immediate feedback?

This is the motivation behind one of my favorite challenges of recent years, 52 Weeks of Mail, in which participants produce a piece of correspondence, typed or handwritten, that is then sent to a friend or family member. The idea is to take a deep breath, to bring communication back to the personal, to establish the sort of informal and direct bond that letter writing has long required.

Of course, writing letters is a two-way process, a correspondence in the truest sense. Sadly, not everyone responds. {After multiple failed attempts, we learned to take a hint.} Though a few did reply, despite our best intentions, our correspondence petered out after a single back-and-forth. With such a low rate of return, it doesn’t take long to lose momentum.

Like many, I thought that technology might revive the art of writing letters, providing us with tools to reach out and connect on multiple levels. Yet this has not happened. As I previously stated, we live in a digital age, in which speed trumps substance, and our ability to keep in touch with each other at all hours, through a variety of media, is more of a burden than a release.

Despite this, I have tried to instill the love for letter writing within my children. My daughter has a pen pal in Canada with whom she has  corresponded with for two years now. My son regularly writes to his grandfather. Through we have yet to reach our goal of writing 52 letters in a calendar year, I can say they write more letters than most children their age.

At camp, I know they will be kept busy. At fish camp a year ago, my daughter didn’t even have time to write in her journal; engaged in activities from sunup to sundown.

When we dropped them off, I reminded them to write if they had the time. They are only there for two weeks. I thereby wasn’t expecting to hear from them.

So when my husband handed me the mail and my daughter’s letter was peaking out between the bank statement and an advertisement for car insurance, I was overjoyed.


July 8, 201420

My kids are heading off to camp soon.  We have been busy making last minute purchases (bug spray, postcards, etc.) and packing all their gear.

When we travel together, we enjoy keeping a journal or scrapbook.  We include photographs, ticket stubs, and receipts. When time allows, we also create sketches of the flora and fauna.

Often we use a blank sketch book for our journal.  Other times we use a ruled journal.  For summer camp, I thought it would be fun to have a fun journal with lots of prompts and cute graphics.

I looked for a summer camp journal both locally and online but have been unable to find one that is gender neutral.  I thus decided to create my own.
camp journal

This 36 page journal is the perfect way for the kids to record their experiences at summer camp.  It is full of fun journaling prompts and has ample space for photographs, autographs, and even a sketch of the camp.

Here is a peak at the Table of Contents:

Getting Ready
What to Pack
Things to Do Before Leaving
Names & Addresses
Daily Camp Log
Camp Schedule
What I Did at Camp
My Favorite Camp Songs
Camp Counselors
Camp Food
New Friends

The Summer Camp Journal is now available from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Have you ever attended a summer camp yourself? If so, tell us a little about it.

What summer camp will your child(ren) be attending this summer?

What are your fondest memories of summer?


September 1, 20106

We bid summer adieu once again with our third annual Summer Art Camp this week. I’ve seemingly exhausted my repertoire of ooey gooey messy art activities so this year we brought camp to our home (rather than the neighborhood park).

You can read about our first art camp here, I sadly didn’t blog about our second year of art camp, however.

I gathered everyone on the carpet for introductions and in doing so also explained my expectations for their behavior: no running around … we are here to explore our creativity in art, not to play – though there would be time for a little of that – but I expected everyone to give 110% and not rush through the projects. Setting the stage early proved to be worthwhile … everyone behaved beautifully and their artwork was excellent!

The first activity we did was to create traditional medal-backed buttons with the words “Third Annual Summer Art Camp 2010 :: Bidding Summer Adieu” around the perimeter. It was a great little ice-breaker and provided a nice souvenir to celebrate. In years past, we’ve created T-shirts but I thought these were more memorable and could be saved like race medals.

We then moved on to Zentangles which were indeed a hit with both the kids and adults. Creating Zentangles is one of my favorite art activities and provides for an easy way to entertain busy bodies at the doctors office, in the car, or on the airplane.  On a white board, I provided a sampling of patterns that could be repeated within the subdivided areas of their canvas (simply a square piece of cardstock). [Admin Note :: The website encourages artists to purchase their starter kit but we simply used permanent markers (Pigma Micron pens work best) and standard cardstock.]

I was impressed that everyone really took their time to see their project through to the finish.  Some choice to use a single color while others chose to use many colors.  Interestingly, this was the one and only project that inspired the moms to give it a go as well.  I was delighted that I was able to introduce them to a new art form … but I must give thanks to my friend Kristin, who first introduced me to Zentangles earlier this year.  🙂

We concluded the first day planning for our Alfombras or carpet mosaics.  I first learned about Alfombras from a Honduran friend of mine and as we studied Central America earlier this year in Passports Club … I knew I wanted to give this a try.  When I was planning this activity, I didn’t really know how to proceed.  My father has a small sawmill and I was able to obtain a large quantity of sawdust which I then dyed with RIT clothing dye (we used just 4 colors:  red, blue, green and orange).

The kids were then encouraged to plan our their design on newsprint in advance.  I showed them numerous images of Semana Santa Alfombras in Central America … pointing out details of the mosaic style and repeated patterns.  Suffice it to say, the kids ventured in their own direction putting their own spin on the idea.  Many created images of what they were interested in … MeiLi created a planet, Buddy created a mosaic of our recent trip to Todd Lake, a couple of the girls created hearts, flowers, and ladybugs.  The boys were more ecclectic … a rocket ship, Crater Lake, and another boy took the word alfombras literally and created a small ‘carpet’.

I had assigned each of the kids a full square on the sidewalk in hopes they would fill up the entire square with their design but like most children’s art, they created a small picture leaving a lot of ‘open space’.   It is difficult to encourage them to use the entire canvas.  I suppose we need a lesson specifically on this!

I discovered this website as I was typing this up .. I didn’t realize until too late that pine needles are frequently placed down first and that other media (flowers, vegetables, etc.) are also used.  We’re definitely going to give this another try.

Other more traditional art activities included watercolors and chalk pastels.  Again I was impressed with their creativity and work.  Our two days of art camp have always been a highlight of our school year (and indeed it is one of the things we do to kick off the new academic year).  This year was particularly enjoyable, however.  The kids are getting older and more can be expected of them.  I set high expectations and they rose to the occasion.