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Worldly Camps: 15 Language Summer Camps for Seattle Kids

Learn a language, play in another culture, have a blast

Published on: April 25, 2014

language immersion school kids dressed as mimes

If you can’t show your children the world over the summer, why not bring the world to them by enrolling them in a camp where they will be immersed in another language and culture?

As Jackie Friedman Mighdoll, founder of Sponge School, notes, “We're raising global citizens, and it starts when they're young.”

And as research has shown, learning another language has serious brainpower benefits for kids. At Seattle-area language and culture camps, kids can have fun and learn French, German, Hebrew, Spanish, Chinese or other languages. Most camps try to cater to the students’ level. If a camper is already proficient in Spanish, they'll be spoken to in Spanish. If they are new to the language, the camp will adjust.

How to find the right language camp for your child? First, visit with camp staff. Ask them about their curriculum and what aspects of the languages' culture they'll explore. If you're fluent in a language yourself, speak to the staff in that language to see if they're up to snuff.

Here are some pointers on Seattle-area language camps, along with a starter list of camps. Find more in ParentMap’s directory and camps calendar

French camp

fencing at canoe island french camp

French is well-represented in the Seattle area with multiple language immersion camps. Sponge School offers week-long day camps at several locations. Sponge also has camps in Spanish, Japanese and Mandarin. “Early exposure,” Sponge's founder states, “helps [kids] open their minds and embrace the world.” The school itself embraces most all facets of French culture including foods, crafts, science experiments, games and enrichment, all done in the French language.

Alliance Française de Seattle, based at the Good Shepherd Center in Wallingford, is Seattle's leading French cultural and learning center. With classes all year long for kids and adults, its summer day camps, all in French, are thematic. Last year's themes included circus arts, gardening and African travel. 

Up north there's a little bit of France on a 47-acre private island. Canoe Island French Camp was founded in 1969 and is run by director Conie Jones. “This is an amazing place for youngsters interested in learning about French to spend two or three weeks.” Indeed, the sleep-away camp offers weeks-long camps for youngsters ages 9–16 to be immersed in all things French – songs and games, history and food, with boating and swimming and fencing and camp fires as well. “It's a wonderful time and sometimes a life-changing experience for our campers,” says Jones.

Persian camp

kids having fun at Persian immersion camp

“There is more to Iran that what you hear about in the news,” says Jayron Finan, founder of the Persian Preschool, which offers week-long day camps for kids up to the age of 7 (camps unconfirmed for 2016). “The Persian culture has been around for thousands of years and is rich in tradition,” says Finan. By learning the language, campers will embrace their ancestry, Finan hopes.

The cultural aspects of such camps are as important as the language – to expose kids the wonders of other cultures and show them that there and countless people striving to learn more about the world.

Spanish camp

kids at spanish immersion camp

Barbara Ford of La Casita Feliz – Spanish Immersion Preschool points out that language and culture study brings brain benefits. She says that kids who learn another language tend to score higher on standardized tests on language arts, reading and math; score higher on the SATs and ACT; are more open to cultural diversity; and enjoy various other cognitive benefits.

Sarah Roseberry Lytle, outreach specialist at the University of Washington's Institute of Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS), echoes Ford: “Research shows that bilingualism may lead to some cognitive advantages, such as increased mental flexibility, improved cognitive control and self-regulation.”

Chinese camp

students at Washington International School mandarin immersion

Roughly 20 percent of the world's citizens speak Chinese. “Learning Chinese is like opening a door to a child,” says Jayme Liang of the Washington International School (WIS), an organization that offers Chinese-English classes all year, as well as a bilingual summer program five days a week. “The child can enter a new world with countless opportunities,” says Liang.

Like many of the camps mentioned, WIS offers experiences rich in stories, arts and crafts, games, music, drama, dance, magic and parties. Kids become immersed in a language and a culture, daily. Campers play games in Chinese, eat in Chinese, tell stories in Chinese and learn in Chinese.

“The language,” Liang says, “becomes a living thing. It's not just words in a textbook.” Kids want to discover the world. Immersion camps help them do that.

student learning frenchLanguage/culture camps in the Seattle area

A list (not comprehensive) of some of the Seattle-area camps that focus on language and culture. Find more in ParentMap’s directory.

Many languages

Sponge School
Languages: Spanish, Mandarin, French, Japanese, Hindi, German
Camp basics: Kids play games, do arts, crafts, theater, sports, singing and cooking, all in the target language.
Times: Week-long camps in Seattle and Bellevue. After care available.
Cost: Early bird pricing through April 15: full day: $375; half day: $210
Ages: Pre-K–grade 2


Washington International School

Camp basics: Activities throughout the week include stories, arts and crafts, games, music, drama and more.
Type of camp: Week-long day camp, 9 a.m.–5 p.m.
Ages: 2.5–15


Alliance Française de Seattle
: 4949 Sunnyside Ave. N. #205, Seattle
Camp basics: Themed weeks immersed in the French language
Type of camp: Week-long day camp
Ages: 4–10

Canoe Island French Camp
: San Juan Islands, WA
Camp basics: Sleep-away camp with a French accent: Campers enjoy the pleasures of a traditional summer camp – kayaking, photography, theater -- on an island and immersed in French language and culture.
Type of Camp: 2- to 3-week sessions of sleep-over camps, plus weekend family camps
Ages: 9–16

The French American School of Puget Sound
3795 E. Mercer Way, Mercer Island
Camp basics: A day camp experience that provides a multicultural environment where students are immersed in the language through learning. Curriculum includes arts and crafts, music, drama, cooking, and team sports, relay races, and swimming, plus field trips.
Ages: 3–10


ABC German School
15047 Bel-Red Road, Bellevue, 425-753-6195
Camp basics: A camp focused on learning the German language through songs, games and play, with small classes and small teacher/student ratio. Each week has its own theme with crafts, songs and games to match the weekly topic.
Type of camp: Week-long day camp
Ages: 3–10

Seattle Area German American School
Location/contact: 11010 Greenwood Ave. N., Seattle
Camp basics: Fun-filled German cultural activities, including music and movement, stories, arts and crafts
Type of camp: Week-long day camp
Ages: 2.5–grade 6


Seattle Hebrew Academy
Location/contact: 1617 Interlaken Dr. E., Seattle, 206-323-5750
Contact school for information about its summer offerings.


Seattle Japanese Language School
Location/contact: 1414 S. Weller St., Seattle
Phone: 206-568-7114
Contact school for information about its summer offerings.


student at Persian PreschoolPersian Preschool
Location/contact: 11325 S.E. 79th Pl., Newcastle
Contact school about summer offerings


Language Link
Location/contact: several locations
Camp basics: The Spanish language and cultures of the world are celebrated and explored. Each week camp focuses on a different country – highlighting its artists, music, dances, food and more.
Type of camp: Week long day-camp
Ages: Pre-K–grade 6

Seattle Amistad School
Location/contact: 1625 19th Ave., Seattle, 206-325-3172
Camp basics: Dual-language summer camp featuring nine weekly theme-focused camps designed to inspire creativity, education and personal growth for children
Type of camp: Week-long, full-day day camp
Ages: 3–10

Zoom Language Academy
Location/contact: 1116 N.W. 54th St. Seattle, 206-783-5850
Camp basics: Spanish language camp taught by native Spanish speakers, with activities (from crafts to sports to music) designed to stimulate children’s cognitive, social and emotional abilities, and encourage verbal communication in Spanish.
Type of camp: Two sessions, morning and afternoon camps.
Ages: 2.5–10

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