And We’re Off!

Well, we’re two days in and so far we’re all still alive, so … WINNING. Things have actually been going pretty swimmingly, especially considering that the weather has been kind of shitty and the super awesome camp T-shirts I made ended up being women’s size medium rather than kid’s size medium, so I guess now they have super awesome camp nightgowns. We’re still figuring out the rhythm of our days. I can already tell that late afternoon/early evening will be useless for getting anything done, which makes now no different from any other time of my life since I had kids, and it only took one day of using the fabled chore chart to know that I was going to have to just suck it up and design one of my own. (More on that – probably more than you would ever want to know – later.) I’m also guessing that the day-of-the-week themes (make-it Monday, take-a-trip-Tuesday, etc.) may fall by the wayside, since what I’m really interested in is learning about the countries and having time with friends, and that doesn’t always jive with the theme of the day. But so far I’m quite pleased with how it’s going.

Aaaanyhoodle, here’s the info from the “Fact Sheet” for this week’s country:


Capital City: Tokyo

Language: Japanese (Kanji)

         Hello/Goodbye = Moshi Moshi or Konichiwa/Sayonara

         Please = Doozo

         Thank You = Arigato

 Food: Sushi, Bento Boxes, Pocky sticks

 Artist: Hokusai, Hasui

 Poem: Basho/Haiku (write our own)

 Story: Legend of Amaterasu, Miss Happiness and Miss Flower,
Zen Shorts (Caldecott Honor Book), Zen Ties

 Movie: any Miyazaki film

 Song: Donguri / Rolling Acorn (Elizabeth Mitchell & Lisa Loeb)

Culture: Manga, Origami, Doll festival, Mulan, Shinto, Karate, Noh Theatre, Kabuki, Hello Kitty, Wood block prints, Sumo

I’m going to try and post these every week, just to keep track. Also so you smart people can correct the ludicrous mistakes I will surely make on these one-sheets. I’m pretty confident in some of the countries, but when it comes to Asian languages, for example, I know zilch. Like, figuring out how to say “please” in Japanese is not simple. (Oh, Japan, you crazy polite country, you! Why you gotta have so many kinds of “please?”) It’s entirely possible that I’ll totally blow some of the info, so please let me know if you catch a major error.

The cultural choices are obviously aimed at the four-to-seven-year-old crowd. (Call me old-fashioned, but I feel like maybe they’re not ready for Ran or Shunga.) Some of the items are just about getting the girls to recognize the foreign origins of some things in their daily surroundings (Hello Kitty, Miyazaki films), while some are there for the opposite reason: to give them a taste of the differentness of this other culture. Which, now that I think about it, is basically what I think foreign travel is all about: discovering commonalities and immersing oneself in difference. (Wait, is my graduate degree in the humanities showing?) So far it seems to be working. Seeing Hello Kitty up on the Information Station made it a little more familiar; and we realized for the first time that the spirits in Miyazaki’s Spirited Away are almost all wearing traditional Noh theatre masks – which then made it all the more exciting to see some of those masks in person at the art museum. Ellie has already memorized two haiku, and we’re planning on drawing samurai warriors tomorrow. Makin’ connections, eatin’ pocky sticks. Like you do.

Now for some administrative stuff: If you look at the top of the page, you’ll see I’ve created a new page for camp-related stuff. I’ll post PDFs of the fact sheets and other documents there, any links I found useful, images, etc. All kinds of stuff. For those of you who are interested in which countries we’re “visiting”, you can find our whole summer itinerary here. The Japan fact sheet is here. Anyway, check it out and let me know if there’s something you’d like to see posted there.

6 responses to “And We’re Off!

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