Thursday, February 26, 2015

Support Canoe Island Just By Shopping on

We encourage all our CIFC friends to shop locally and support businesses in their community. But if you need to make an online purchase, please consider shopping through AmazonSmile to support Canoe Island French Camp. 

AmazonSmile, accessible through, is an Amazon website where you can find the exact same products and prices as those on When you shop on AmazonSmile and designate Canoe Island French Camp as your charity of choice, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the price of eligible purchase to CIFC. It’s easy and free for you to use, and Canoe Island campers will benefit from the donations! All contributions will support our scholarship fund.

You can access AmazonSmile through our blog or website; when you click the links, you’ll be shopping on AmazonSmile and the proceeds will automatically benefit CIFC. If you go directly to, you’ll log into your Amazon account and designate Canoe Island French Camp as your charity of choice. We are grateful for any and all support! To read more about AmazonSmile, have a look at their FAQs. To learn about how CIFC uses donations, see our website.

Saturday, February 21, 2015


Perrine & her mom, Dominique, in 2014
Canoe Island French Camp had the benefit of second generation counselors this past year: Perrine Torcal and Jehan Chevignard both had parents at Canoe Island French Camp in the 1980s. Perrine and her mother Dominque, who live near Aix-en-Provence, shared with us some of their souvenirs of Canoe Island and the United States. 

“I still remember my arriving to Canoe, the ferry from Anacortes, the beauty and splendor of the San Juan Islands. It was the most beautiful landscape I had ever seen so far!” she said. 
Without the internet or friends who had traveled to the US, Dominque knew little about the country.  “I still remember my first impression when I arrive at JFK airport. So scary, impressive, AMAZING, AWESOME!!!  My first words: it’s huge! Cars, buildings, roads….not what I expected,” said Dominque.  She found out about Canoe Island from her brother Jérôme Lucas who was a counselor in 1985 and 1986.  She and her brother Christophe Guguen both came to Canoe Island in 1987 and she returned in 1988.  

Perrine and Dominique found that camp is still much the same as it was in the 1980s. 
 “I know the tipi and pool decks are really recent, but a part from the installations, the sense of community and all the good moments we both spent are still the same,” Perrine said.
The spirit of Canoe is still the same and that’s a good thing,” said Dominque. 
Perrine with her tipi
Session Les Voyageurs - July 2014
Dominique worked at camp when Gus the Bus took campers and counselors on the ferry to Victoria BC.  (Gus is now retired to a shady forest glen filled with campers’ and counselors’ names and dates at camp.)  One thing that struck them both:  the friendliness of the American people.  “I did not expect American people to be so kind, generous and polite in every situation possible.  People on Canoe are the most welcoming people I’ve every known,” said Perrine.  Although Perrine returned to university at the end of camp, her mother had an American adventure with her brother, driving from Seattle to Los Angeles, teaching French in Iowa, and traveling from Chicago to Miami by Greyhound bus and on to the Bahamas.  “Needless to say, I experienced many different cultures through all those places. But there’s one thing that keeps coming to my mind when I think about it: American people’s kindness.” 

Before she arrived Perrine doubted that some of the things her mother told her would be fun. “I thought you had to be crazy to sing three national anthems every morning, that I wouldn’t like it so much, the way she did … safe to say this is not what happened!” said Perrine.
Dominique in the Maxim's in 1987
Being a camp counselor at Canoe was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had, and I’m glad Perrine felt the same way so many years later. It means that Dr. Austin’s wish and dream is preserved even with another board of directors that is doing a great job. No wonder Canoe is still successful!

Connie Jones - January 2015

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

La Ville Rose aux yeux tournés vers le ciel

Toulouse, a city with an exceptional heritage, has some wonderful surprises for you. Private mansions from the golden age of woad (a plant grown in the 16th century for its blue pigment), religious buildings with brick and stone decoration, rich collections in museums based in remarkable monuments and converted industrial sites: so many amazing places to see! Let the Ville Rose reveal all its history and charms as you travel among its streets and monuments.

A few things that you cannot miss during your visit of Toulouse include:
- The Capitole where the City Hall, the Théâtre national du Capitole orchestra and the opera house are located. 
- The Saint-Sernin basilica
- The Couvent des Jacobins

- The numerous museums (including Les Abattoirs)

- Le Canal du Midi: In 2009 Meg spent 2 weeks boating with her family on the Canal. She remembers: "The canal is peaceful and beautiful, and I loved dropping anchor in small towns to explore the markets. That was my first experience navigating locks, as well as my first time driving a boat. Too bad I didn't have the boating skills I have now back then."

- La Cité de l'Espace and Airbus site: we have Boeing in Washington. Discover its European competitor next to Toulouse where you'll learn everything about the A380, the biggest passenger airliner and discover many cool facts of space. 

la Basilique Saint-Sernin

Saturday, February 14, 2015


As the days slowly start to last longer, and while we are all getting ready for our first programs in the spring, we reached out to our past crew! Everybody will be spread out all around the world this summer and we are very glad to hear that they are all doing great!

Rémi is preparing his new experience abroad at the moment for summer 2015. He will leave for a new internship by the German shore of Bondensee (Lake Constance) at the border between Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. He will be working as a mailman for a few months.

Tchoko is now studying in Paris and will embark in a new adventure in South America. She is planing on staying in Peru for three months during the summer and achieve a humanitarian mission. She will start volunteering in a village in the mountains, then will volunteer in an orphanage in Lima

Anna has been busy since returning back from camp this summer, returning to Exeter University in England, studying hard and securing a part time job waitressing at a fancy italian restaurant. "Certainly not as much fun a job as working on Canoe Island, but there's nothing much like that available around here!" she said. Anna returned home to France to spend Christmas with her family and was lucky enough to spend a couple of days skiing in the Pyrenees, just over the French border in to Spain - giving her friends and her the opportunity to practice their Spanish as well as their skiing techniques! This second term has kicked off well and Anna is currently spending most of her free time trying to set up a Handball Club at the university, because believe it or not, the English barely know what the wonderful game is! She is also keeping her fingers crossed that her town will be as lucky as most others in the UK to get some snow!

Over the winter, Jack has been keeping busy with all of his studies and work. He now works as an infrastructural engineer designing new buildings all over the world! Jack spent a lot of time with his family and friends. He has kept in contact with some of the counselors at Canoe Island, and they message regularly. Amaury came to visit in December for a week and then together they traveled to Exeter to see Anna. Jack said: "it was great seeing both of them again!" In the summer 2015 he is going to the Greek Islands and then later on in the year he will travel around Thailand! Jack is saving money for a flight back to Canoe Island one day! 

Eden is currently living in Vancouver, BC. She works as a freelance illustrator and cheesemonger. Additionally, Eden is organizing and participating in various local art shows. This April, she is heading to France for three weeks to visit some Canoe alumni. She was part of a group of artists who created a full tarot card deck, now available in pre-order!

Perrine has been to Amsterdam and The Hague with her friends for a couple of days, and she spent New Year's Eve in the streets of Amsterdam and it was amazing!! Unfortunately she couldn't meet Tchoko who appears to also be there at the same time! Perrine is now back home in the south of France and she will stay there until August. She will probably be moving somewhere else in France after she passed her exam!

While this time last year Marisa was gallivanting around France and Europe, this winter she is taking a virtual journey into the world of French literature as she writes her senior thesis and prepares for exams on everything she has learned in the past four years. Who'd be interested in a morning activity this summer about the philosophy of Sartre? Just kidding. She thinks. (Marisa is indeed coming back for her forth summer as a counselor!)

Jehan left earlier than the rest of the crew last summer and headed straight to Quebec where he is studying Environmental Geography at the Université de Montréal. We're very happy to have Jehan back on Canoe Island this summer!

This winter Emily has been pretty busy studying for her senior chemistry exams and the MCAT (the entrance exam for medical schools), as well as doing research for her thesis in organic chemistry. When she is not in the science building (rare) Emily volunteers with the Girl Scouts, helping manage the area's cookie sales, or at Walla Walla's free clinic, doing various jobs and learning about the clinic. Emily misses camp everyday, and she hope everyone is having a great year!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Montpellier, la plus séduisante ville du Sud

Place de la Comédie, Montpellier
Along with Lille, Montpellier has brought many French counselors in the past at CIFC. In 2012, the New York Times ranked it in the 45 top places to visit (and also the only French city in the ranking list). In the past decades, Montpellier was also the fastest growing urban area (like Seattle nowadays in the US) and is now a highlight on the southern coast. 

But what makes Montpellier such a hit in France? Reasons are pretty easy to find once you arrive in the city:
- The warm and sunny weather
- The medieval narrow streets of the historical district
- The cultural hub the city is, with numerous festivals and cultural events

Former staff Marion (2009) said that what she enjoys the most in her hometown are: "the sea and the sun, and the totally car-freed historical neighborhood called l’Ecusson with its many terraces."

Montpellier cultivates a taste for simplicity and pleasure; A bike ride to the nearby seaside, ; a canoe trip along the river, observing the flora of the waterway; promenades along the green network and protected areas, observing on one hand this architecture that so many admire.

One last reason why you should definitely stop by there next time: the city would have the sexiest tram system in Europe according to the New York Time. With several fashion designers who worked on this project like Christian Lacroix, Montpellier certainely has a good looking tram. 
sexiest tram in Europe

inspired by The Telegraph

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Far from Paris, Yann finds Canoe Island

Former camper Yann Dardonville, who will be a volunteer this summer, reflects on his six summers as a camper 
at Canoe Island French Camp. Here is his story:

My name is Yann Dardonville! Although I’m a Parisian native, I have lived in Seattle since I was 3 years old. I had the great pleasure of attending Canoe Island for 6 years--from 2009 to 2014--and can now call myself a proud “first-generation alum”.

Being raised in a French-speaking household (both of my parents are French), I've had the great fortune of growing up bilingual. But in a region like Seattle where French culture and language is scarce, it has been difficult to keep my roots firmly planted in my native land. That’s why I consider myself so lucky to live near Canoe Island: It’s a French-American transplant in the Pacific Northwest. Being able to connect with French counselors and spend a few weeks every summer consolidating my French helped bring me back to my culture and build new bridges to France (as well as other countries) that I would not have had otherwise. Every time I would come home from camp, my accent would have improved and I would speak more fluently. I credit Canoe for keeping me interested and passionate about France.

This was only one part of my Canoe experience, however. Spending two to three weeks in such a small and tight-knit community on a wonderful island made me feel comfortable trying new things. I remember, for example, sitting on a mossy patch at my first Inspiration Point circle, surrounded by people I had only known for a week, and getting the idea that I could write a song to perform at the end of camp. I had always liked singing, but I had never thought about writing songs. One week later, I performed my song at the “Jacques Martin show” in front of my newfound friends, and ever since then, I have pursued my hobby of songwriting and performing seriously. I now perform music at a restaurant in Seattle and perform on the street at farmer’s markets! I know that without the amazing support provided by the camp community, and the wonderful natural environment, I probably wouldn’t have discovered my love of writing music as early as I did. Canoe is not just about learning French, it’s about learning who you are as a person and feeling comfortable expressing yourself.

My experience at Canoe can only be described by the epithet, “Canoe magic”. I call it magic because it is so hard to explain and denote all the ways this camp has changed me for the better. I think this magic was what the camp’s founder, Dr. Austin, had in mind when he started it: He wanted kids to come out of the camp with a greater appreciation for French culture and the world around them. He understood that in order to do so, he needed to create the special environment found on the environment today.
This environment is something that must be upheld, so I ask all of the members of the CIFC community to join me in supporting the island by donating to the camp. In doing so, you will be helping to provide for campers to have great experiences like the ones I and many others have had. My camp experience is something that completely changed my life, and I hope that many other campers will get to live the same thing I did. 

Yann Dardonville - December 2014

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Entre calissons, étudiants et Sainte-Victoire, partez à la découverte d'Aix!

Le Cours Mirabeau la nuit tombée

Like its calisson, Aix-en-Provence is a sweet itself. A sweet small city perched on the heights of Marseille. A well-known student hub for centuries, Aix is also a very chic city of Provence. "Its leafy boulevards and public squares are lined with 17th- and 18th-century mansions, punctuated by gurgling moss-covered fountains. Haughty stone lions guard its grandest avenue, cafe-laced Cours Mirabeau, where fashionable Aixois pose on polished pavement terraces sipping overpriced espresso.”* 
Aix used to be the capital of Provence until the Révolution and the rise of Marseille. More than ever, Aix remains a center for culture. Musée Granet has several hundreds of paintings, including Cézanne, Monet, Picasso, Van Gogh, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Klee, Giacometti, Ingres and many more. If you look around the city, you can’t miss the intriguing mountain, Montagne Sainte-Victoire, which you have probably seen before in many paintings of Cézanne. The mountain is a perfect spot for hiking, climbing and paragliding. 
Perrine (2014 counselor) explains that she enjoys living in Aix because “it's an old town, and its architecture and its heritage are acknowledged throughout the world - and still, the city is lively and full of youth, and there is always something to do or see.” 
On your way to the train station, stop by Les Deux Garçons, probably the most famous brasserie on the Cours Mirabeau and order a treat. You may even feel the ghosts of Cézanne, Zola, or Hemingway who used to go there quite often!

Terrasses de cafés à Aix


Sunday, February 1, 2015

CIFC friends show their love for Camp in PHOTOS!

Eden in British Colombia 

Ashley in Massachusetts - Raymond in Washington - Mindy in California 
Aaron & Amanda,  Elise,  and Hannah Lu in Washington

Every year in the middle of the winter we take some time to remember how much we love camp! February 1st is national "I Heart Camp Day!" We are celebrating our love of camp within the Canoe Island community and with camps around the world. 

Jehan in Quebec - Jean-Baptiste in France - Brett in Oregon
Camille in Texas - Tchoko in France - Jordan in Minnesota

Camp is about having fun! It is also about creating long-term friendships, discovering, learning and building new skills. Camp is about appreciating the environment we are living in and learning how to protect it. Summer Camps are a true experience about growing for young people (campers and staff!). Every year we work on updating our programs and renovating our facilities, thanks to you.

Perrine in France - Jack in England - Meg in Pennsylvania 
Maxence in Texas - Amaury in Washington - Emilie & Rémi in France

Here at Canoe Island French Camp, we appreciate every single moment of the summer that allows us to learn. We are very thankful for this strong community supporting us and all the friends we have since the creation of this camp, almost fifty years ago!

Claire and Grace in Washington- Genevieve in Iowa
Emily & Marisa in Washington - Roni in Mexico - Shelby in Washington

Merci pour tout! 

Connie & Joseph in Oregon - Camille in France- Kimberly in Germany
Brittany, Yann, and Rosemary in Washington
Maia in Mexico - Stephanie in Massachusetts - Ariana in Colorado