Around the world, in Mandarin: Summer traditions gain element of immersion at two-week camp

Courtesy of Jennifer Chapa
A Mandarin-language summer camp in Mountain View offered by Yew Chung International School uses traditional camp activities such as sports and crafts to provide a low-pressure backdrop to language learning.


At Yew Chung International School, campers can travel all around the world without leaving their Mountain View campus.

In two-week summer sessions at the Mandarin-English bilingual school, students in grades K-6 choose from seven thematic sessions that combine universal summer camp experiences - performing dramas, camping in nature or creating a scrapbook - with the added dimension of Chinese immersion.

In one around-the-world-themed camp, students "visit" a major city each day, constructing replica landmarks and reading traditional folktales. The exploration takes place through a distinctly Mandarin lens, enabling "beginners who just want to have a new experience" and native speakers of the language to practice and enjoy the culture in a "low-pressure environment," according to Jennifer Chapa, admissions director.

With teachers who normally teach at Yew Chung or at weekend Chinese schools in the U.S., the camp is conducted almost entirely in Chinese. Gabriel Kralik, whose two children attend Yew Chung, said the mini-concert and formal presentation that capped off their session showed a surprising level of accomplishment among campers.

"For us, we want our children to be proud of their Chinese culture and heritage and to celebrate who they are. The camp places our children in touch with their origin and tells them to be proud of it," he said. "The counselors have incredible depth, not only in the Chinese language, but also in the art of facilitating happiness."

For more information, call 903-0986 or visit

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