Friday, December 23, 2016

Ibis Element


Our next artist within the Canoe Island French Camp community is Margaret Schafer. She has been a counselor, marketing coordinator, assistant director and is now the administrative director at Canoe Island French Camp.

Q. What are the mediums you work with?
A. I make jewelry as a hobby using the lost wax casting method, also known by its French name, "cire perdue". This method involves carving an object out of wax and then replacing the wax with metal. All my designs are currently cast in yellow bronze.

Q. How would you describe the art you create?
A. Unique handmade jewelry that recalls styles of antiquity but remains modern. I hope to create pieces that can be worn everyday but still feel special.

Q. How can interested buyers get in touch with you?
A. Feel free to have a look at my Etsy shop at or email me at with any questions.

Q. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A. Many of my pieces evoke the form of insects, which have always fascinated me. And I'm constantly inspired by living on Canoe. One of my recent pieces resembles the plate of a chiton, which I sometimes see on the paths when I walk around the island.

Q. What were some of your favorite things to create in the Atelier at Canoe Island French Camp?
A. When the campers are on the island, I love working in clay with them in the Atelier. I really appreciate seeing the inventive, whimsical pieces the campers make and I love the thrill of putting a ceramic creation in the kiln and seeing the transformation.

Q. What advice do you have for young artists?
A. Take pleasure in the process of creation and don't be discouraged if your first try doesn't match the vision in your head. Each day that I spend time on jewelry I can feel myself improving little by little, but I had to make a lot of bad work before I could make pieces that live up to my vision.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Eden Cooke's Whimsy and Magic


For those looking into arts and craft festivals for their holiday gifts, look no further! You may find the perfect hand crafted gift made by someone within the Canoe Island French Camp community. Canoe Island French Camp has welcomed many young artists over the years. Some have gone on to continue their artistic practice as careers. Over the next holiday weeks we'd like to introduce you to some of these artists.

Our first artist is Eden Cooke. We asked her to answer a few questions about her connection to CIFC and her art. Eden was a camper for many years and then went on to be a counselor, program coordinator and artist in residence. You can find more of her artwork at

Q. What are the mediums you work with?
A. I'm an illustrator who uses several different media with a focus on Graphite and Photoshop. I also make ceramic brooches with clay.

Q. How would you describe the art you create?
A. Whimsical illustrations that tell stories for a variety of ages. For the most part I create illustrations with some form of whimsy or magic. I like to include a lot of detail which allows the viewer to find something in the image with each viewing. I also love an illustration to give at least part of an interesting story.

Q. How can interested buyers get in contact with you?
A. Interested parties can email me at

Q. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A. I am typically inspired by a good folktale, a beautiful and bizarre landscape and little bit of story that's stuck in my head.

Q. What were some of your favorite things to create in the Atelier at Canoe Island French Camp?
A. When I was a camper I loved being in the Atelier because it gave me a lot of new people to draw, and practice drawing different types of faces. As well as allowing me to experiment with new media and methods. As a staff member I really enjoyed inventing and creating illustrated card games with campers.

Q. What advice do you have for young artists?
A. Don't be afraid to make ugly drawings or ugly projects, if you have an idea you should try it.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Amaury in Chad!


Amaury hitching a ride in Chad

Past Canoe Island French Camp program coordinator, Amaury Coin, is currently in Chad! Amaury is working as an international aid worker with a NGO named MOUSTAGBAL. The organization focuses on helping those who live in poverty through education, professional development, social and economic reintegration, food security and health. Amaury is the technical assistant to the director and works to execute the current projects by writing up reports for partners and funders, writing and submitting grants, and attending meetings with partner groups.

Here is a short excerpt about the weather in Chad from his newsletter "La Reine du Guera" .

The “rain season” is 90% done, we get a rain once a week now and by the end of October we shouldn’t have any rain until June. Which means it’ll be sunny every single day. I still don’t really realize that aspect of life. I’m so used to have rain and/or cold every often in Lille, Paris. But it seems to be true, every morning, when I wake up at 6am, there’s a warm sun and a perfect blue sky, with some white clouds sometimes. 

For the full newsletter en francais click the newsletter title above the excerpt.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

France's reaction to Trump's victory


cover of La Croix after the US election

News across France last Thursday led with headlines relating to President-elect Donald Trump. Most included tones of shock and disbelief for his victory. La Croix was titled "L'inconnue" in reference to how little is known about his foreign policy and how many of his policies may impact the globalized world. They also warned against worrying too much with this message:

"What brings us together is worth more than that which divides us, it's better to build bridges than walls"

For the full range of discussion points around the United States election in France, including what it may mean for the upcoming elections in France, see this news clip from France 24. 

At Canoe Island we are constantly working to build bridges to understanding those different than ourselves: different languages, different cultures, different world views. Connie Jones, camp director, shared a message for the vision of Canoe Island French Camp looking forward:

"What we do for and with children and their families and the lessons we teach, should give us strength in the knowledge that we will make a difference in the outlook of the upcoming generation."

The desire to inquire and learn about those with different viewpoints from our own should not stop at camp. If anything, this election has revealed just how divided in thought an conversation the United States is. We need to focus on building relationships in our discussions and lead with curiosity from our hearts.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Bring out your inner artist!


Ever wanted to share your artistic expression through film, writing or design? Not only do you have the opportunity to do all these things at Canoe Island French Camp, you can bring these passions into your classroom back at school!

Every year, during National French Week, the American Association of Teachers of French invite students to muse on the annual theme and submit short films, essays, and posters. Sometimes all it takes to enthuse a new generation of filmmakers, writers and graphic designers is the right subject. And what is more inspiring than the theme "Onward to New Frontiers for French!" Enjoy the submissions for this year's French week, or see the winners from National French Week 2014.

CIFC camper designing a poster in art

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

En avant vers les nouvelles frontières du français!

Canoe Island French Camp mimes ready to perform!

Always up for an adventure, we at Canoe Island French Camp, along with the American Association of Teachers of French, explore the wonderful world of French November 4-10! National French Week is an annual celebration of French language and culture. The theme this year, is "Onward to New Frontiers for French," An inspirational sentiment in a global community that is ever changing and growing.

President Obama sent his support for the celebration of French in a letter relaying the appreciation he has for all the contributions French language and culture has made to the United States.

Send us a photo or upload one to instagram with the #canoeislandfrenchcamp #nationalfrenchweek of yourself and others celebrating French culture this and next week!

CIFC dancers in the San Juan Island 4th of July parade

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A divided France


At Canoe Island French Camp we encourage the development of our campers emotional and social intelligence through group activities and learning a new language and its culture. By engaging in a new language with people of different backgrounds from our own we begin to broaden our capacity for empathy and our world perspective.

France is currently undergoing a test of compassion with the recent rehousing of thousands of refugees from the town of Calais. A National Public Radio broadcast shares some of the responses to the rehousing, and brings into question how we as humans deal with the dire needs of displaced peoples and our own fear of the unfamiliar.

French counselors show their national pride on Bastille Day 2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Guillaume le conquérant

October 14, 1066

Guillaume of France and Harold of England bring their armies head to head and the epic Battle of Hastings ensues! This battle marks the beginning of French rule in England, and the introduction of 10,000 french words that are still used in English today. Travel back in time with historians in this recent news clip from France 24 to hear the story and see the places of this historic battle. Also enjoy this short video that explains the influence French has had on the English language.

Consider registering for our Session 4, les chevaliers where campers learn about this story and the code of chivalry!

campers learn to use a trebuchet during the chevaliers session

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Day at Family Camp

Sometimes the best way to feel the value of a Canoe Island French Camp program is to delve into the favorite memories we have of it. Karen Leeds, who recently attended our Labor Day Family Camp shared some photos and memories that her family David, Eli and Nick will keep from their time at Canoe.

First thing in the morning we all gather at les drapeaux to raise the American and French flag while singing the national anthems. Karen expressed a fond memory she had of the experience:

"One of my favorite moments was when Eli cued up the singing of the French national anthem with 'un, deux, trois'! I had no idea he had picked up on how to do that and he'd never spoken a stitch of French in his life before that weekend!"

Eli giving folks an 'un, deux, trois'

After flag everyone heads to the Maxim's, our dining hall named after the famous restaurant in Paris. We all read the menu en français, and recite the benediction. Karen admits that after camp "we are still chanting 'tous sous le même toit!' around our house". French is woven into multiple aspects of programming, from meal times, to French class, and activities; it's easy for folks to apprendre le français. 

The days at Canoe Island French Camp are as structured or relaxed as you'd like them to be. We offer a wide array of activities for the whole family to try. Eli and Nick's favorites during the weekend included tomahawk throwing, a night paddle in the big voyageur canoe to witness the bioluminescence, and rock climbing on the far side of the island with our camp director Joseph Jones.

families get ready to circumnavigate the island aboard the voyageur canoe!

Great memories are formed outside of the planned activities as well. Dave enjoyed walking the trails around the island "there seemed to be something new and interesting to see everywhere we looked". Nights can be spent either in one of our platformed canvas tipis on our cots, or under the stars on the sports field. Nick and Eli chose the latter for one of their nights on island and have some favorite memories from their experience of dormant sous les étoiles. Eli loved "finding the Big Dipper. It was so dark so we could see so many stars". Nick also enjoyed experiencing the night sky "Sleeping in the field out under the stars was my favorite part. We saw so many shooting stars".

The view from inside the Leeds' tipi

Aside from the amazing natural surroundings and outdoor opportunities, it's really the people you meet and friends you make here on Canoe that form lasting connections. Another favorite memory of Nick's was, "playing new games with new friends". 

The final night at family camp we have a talent show that features anyone and everyone with something special to share. Karen relates her memories of that event as, "the talent show was such an unexpected surprise. It connected us to so many of the campers. And of course to see little Eli up there doing his thing, it was unforgettable". For those who weren't in attendance, Eli gave a memorable diablo performance!

With registration now open for all our 2017 programming, we hope you'll consider bringing your family to form your own memories and friendships here at Canoe Island French Camp.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

47 années des souvenirs, pourquoi aimez-vous Canoe?

Canoe Island French Camp, founded in 1969, is home to 47 years of memories, friendships and stories. Why do you love Canoe? I invite all those with connection to this special place to reflect on that question and let us know! Be it in the comment section here, or an email sent to

I'll start. Why do I love Canoe?

It's an island enchanted by years of shared experience, growth and exploration of culture and nature.

Campers and families find a sense of home and belonging to something bigger than themselves.

Our caring and attentive staff bring such passion and richness to the programming.

Grasse matinée!

Share with us why you love Canoe!

Sunday, May 1, 2016

le voila joli mois de Mai

Happy May Day! in France today is known as la fête du travail (labor day). All over France you will find vendors selling les muguets (lily of the valley). Lillies are often shared with friends and relatives as a sign of appreciation today. With that in mind, we'd like to show our appreciation for all of you by sharing this sweet poem avec quelques brins des muguets.

Here you are the pretty month of May
With your beautiful muguet
a little bouquet
to mark friendship...
a little bouquet
to bring happiness...
some sprigs of sweetness
some sprigs of happiness
on this first of may
to bring luck and joy

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Knights of the Round Table Trivia

Les chevaliers


The legendary King Arthur ruled Britain honorably and vanquished both human and supernatural foes. His loyal and righteous round table of knights accompanied him on many adventures. French writer Chrétien de Troyes wrote of sir Lancelot and the story of the Holy Grail. In the French region of Brittany, King Arthur is a well known personage. French and British lore and language have influenced one another throughout the ages. Les chevaliers session at Canoe Island French Camp focuses on these connections and culminates in our own quest for the Holy Grail and knighting of King Arthurs court! See how well versed you are in medieval knowledge.


1. qu'est-ce que c'est, "la joute"?
what is "jousting"?

2. qu'est-ce que signifie un blason?
what does a coat of arms represent?

3. quelles sont deux qualités d'un chevalier?
what are two qualities of a knight?

4. quelle tapisserie fameuse raconte l'histoire du Guillaume le conquérant?

what famous tapestry tells the story of William the conquerer?

Les réponses

Check back next week for the answers!

See how much you knew about le monde francophone by checking your answers.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

All the world's a stage!

Past camper and program assistant Yann Dardonville is no stranger to the world of theater. As a camper in 2011 he was part of an enthusiastic group who wanted their Soir au Theatre to be a reenactment of the entire story depicted in the Bayeux tapestry. For those who are unfamiliar with this tapestry, it depicts the Battle of Hastings, an important victory for the Normands (French speaking) against the English. The tapestry is 20 inches tall and 231 feet long! It was a wonderful play. Yann says that Canoe helped give him the confidence to act in his high school productions.

Yann is now a senior at the Bush School in Seattle and chose to direct a short play for his culminating project after three years of involvement with high school theater. He is one of five directors who have prepared pieces for the 2016 Bush School Student Directed Short Play Festival. Come support Yann and his fellow directors this Wednesday and Thursday, April 28th at 7pm in the Benaroya Theater at the Bush School!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Safe trails and clean boots!

A huge MERCI! to all the hard working, fun loving folks who attended this year's Spring Work Party. So many essential projects were completed this past weekend including rerouting trails that have edged too close to cliffs due to erosion, graveling mud puddles that have dirtied shoes for years, installing a beautiful new door to l'Abri, building stairs to the second cabin and connecting the Musee to the internet. We are so thankful for all the help getting camp ready and look forward to our upcoming programs!

Joseph bringing gravel for a muddy trail!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Francophone World Trivia

Le monde francophone


Le monde francophone refers to all the countries in the world where the French language is spoken. In the 17th century France began competing to colonize countries in the Americas, Africa, the Caribbean and Indochina. As new provinces and colonies were established, the French language and culture spread. While most of these countries have since regained their independence, aspects of the French language and culture are still very present. At Canoe Island French Camp we celebrate the rich and diverse cultures of the French speaking world during our third session. See how much you know about some of them!

1. Qu'est-ce que signifie "l'OIF"?
What does OIF stand for?

2. Comment dit-on "bonjour" en Wolof, une langue native du Sénégal?
How would you say "hello" in Wolof, a native language of Senegal?

3. Qu'est-ce que c'est "la zouk" de Guadeloupe?
What is "la zouk" from Guadeloupe?

4. On peut acheter un bon dessert au Café du Monde en Nouvelle Orleans. Qu'est-ce que c'est?

We can buy an excellent dessert at the Café du Monde in New Orleans. What is it?

Les réponses

1. l'Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie
International Organization of la Francophonie

2. Salaam aleekum

3. Une danse
A dance

4. Un beignet

Friday, April 8, 2016

French Voyageur Trivia

Les voyageurs


The French voyagers moved to 'New France' in the early 18th century to take part in the fur trade. Many of the elite class in Europe wore fur hats, so the demand was high! Especially with some of the most prized animals hunted to extinction in France and England. Travel along rivers in birchwood canoes into the backcountry was hard and dangerous work! Rhythmic songs to set the stroke pace and pass the time were aplenty, including Alouette and a Canoe Island French Camp favorite, Chevaliers de la Table Ronde

1. Où se trouve la Nouvelle France au début de 18ème siècle?
Where was 'New France' at the beginning of the 18th century?

2. Quel animal avait la fourrure la plus demandée pour les chapeaux en Europe?
What animal had the most popular fur for hats in Europe?

3. Qu'est-ce que ça va dire 'portager'?
What does 'to portage' mean?

4. Les Français ont de la baguette. Quelle type du pain était fait par les voyageurs?
The French have baguette. What type of bread was made by the voyageurs?

Les réponses

1. En Amerique du Nord
In North America

2. Un castor
A beaver

3. A porter un canot à l'invers sur les épaules
To carry an upside down canoe on the shoulders

4. le Bannock

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Magic of Family Camp

Why do people love Canoe Island French Camp Family Camp?

A recent interview with Susan West, a Bellingham mother, and multi-year family camp attendee reveals the answer.

Q. Why did you decide to attend a Canoe Island French Camp Family Camp?

A. I've been a Francophile my entire life. As my daughter grew old enough, I looked for summer camps for her with French language. We first attended Family Camp because my child was too young to register for camp, but we just couldn't stand waiting. It also seemed like a good way for me to know where she would be going, for her to be less likely to experience apprehension or home sickness, and for us to spend a weekend on a private island in the beautiful San Juan Islands.

Q. What did you find as a result of attending a Canoe Island French Camp Family Camp?

A. I made many friends, and my daughter did as well. The food was incredible, the island magical and the staff generous and attentive. Although I was worried about not speaking sufficient French, and facing sure humiliation, the whole range of French levels was represented in the other families attending, so I was able to learn some French without ever feeling pressured or inadequate.

Q. What was the best thing about it?

A. The location is unique. The size of the island is small enough to really get to know in a weekend, and ecologically rich enough that there is always something amazing to see. I doubt I will ever be less than delighted and amazed seeing a mink darting along shore as I kayak, or jellyfish blobbing about under my boat, or bioluminescence glittering off the body of some parent fool enough to jump in the cold water in the dark.

Q. What other benefits do you see in attending a Canoe Island French Camp Family Camp?

A. It's a chance to go back to childhood just a bit. Taking the ferry to Orcas Island, then the camp's boat to Canoe Island, is a transforming experience, removing us from our daily life and opening our hearts and minds to a new way of being in the world. It's great for my FitBit count.

Q. What would you say to anyone considering registering for a family camp?

A. I've recommended family camp to many families, particularly those with children a year shy of being old enough to go to camp on their own. Going to camp is, for most children, a first big step out of the family and school nest and into the big world of semi-independence, new friends, and unique experiences. Spending a weekend, with parents is a comfortable way to see what it will be like without actually taking a blind leap. And for parents, it's incredibly comforting to be able to picture where the little one will be, and to know that they'll be in reliable and caring hands having an amazing time.

Families who aren't sending their first child to camp also have a wonderful experience. Where else do we get to hurl Tomahawks at stumps and sleep in tipis? The pool is warm, and the new bathrooms are beautiful. Privately guided boating trips slip away from the dock at dawn, and the fire pit comes alive with songs as the sun sets. And forget the slop you may remember from your childhood camp: the magicians in the kitchen serve meals with organic locally sourced ingredients; meats smoked and cured on the island; breads and pastries baked from scratch; and crab and salmon grilled on the deck overlooking the strait where Orca whales have been seen hunting just feet offshore.

The only downside to Canoe Island Family Camp is hearing the staff's singing fade as the boat pulls away from dock, seeing the island dwindle in the distance, and knowing it will be a year before we can come back.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

French Revolution Trivia

Last Sunday, Canoe Island French Camp participated in the Seattle French Fest- a daylong celebration of francophone music, dance, language and culture. We greeted past and current campers, and introduced curious attendees to our summer French programs, family camps and school group programs. We also tested folks' knowledge of our session themes. Our French camp sessions incorporate four unique themes, and each has a rich and exciting history.

How well do you know la révolution française, les voyageurs, le monde francophone and les chevaliers? Over the next few weeks we'll ask you the trivia questions for each session! Check back the next week to see if your answers were correct.

La révolution française


The French Revolution was a time of political upheaval and change in France. In the late 18th century much of the French population was in grave poverty, even though the upperclass, les nobles, and the royal court continued to have lavish parties, paid no taxes, and seemed unconcerned with the growing discontent among the people. New taxes, rising prices of bread, and displacement of many to the cities to find work all added to the unrest. How much do you know about this time period? Test yourself with these four questions:

1. Qui était le roi français pendant la révolution française?
Who was the french king during the french revolution?

2. Les Etats Généraux étaient convoqués en 1789. Qui étaient les trois états des Etats Généraux?
The Estates General were convened in 1789. Who made up the three levels of the Estates General?

3. Le tiers états ont formés leur propre assemblée, l'Assemblée Nationale. Qu'est-ce qu'ils ont écrit pendant le Serment du Jeu de Paume?
The common people formed their own assembly, the National Assembly. What did they write during the Tennis Court Oath?

4. Qu'est-ce qui s'est passé le 14 juillet 1789?
What happened July 14, 1789?

unhappy peasants ready for a revolution!

les réponses~ 

1. Louis XVI

2. Le clergé, les nobles, le tiers états
The clergy, the nobles, the common people

3. Une constitution pour la France
A constitution for France

4. La prise de la Bastille!
The storming of the Bastille!