3x3—Multigenerational Latvian ethnic heritage camps
USA, Australia, England, Latvia
All ages, participants under 17 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Participation by families is especially encouraged. All activities are conducted in Latvian, except at one of the camps in England, where English is the main language. Non-Latvian speakers may be able to participate if accompanied by a family member who can act as an interpreter (however, getting in touch with the contact person for the camp is advisable).
The cost may vary but is usually approximately US$200 per person per week. Family rates are offered at most camps.
The first 3x3 camp was organized at Garezers, USA, in 1981, by the Bureau for Cultural Affairs of the American Latvian Association (ALA). The goals were to provide an intergenerational support system for the Latvian family, to educate all generations about Latvian culture, history and politics, to improve Latvian language proficiency, to encourage Latvian ethnic identity formation and sustenance, and to facilitate the development of closer ties among the members of the Latvian community as well as a sense of group identity or of Latvian affiliation. The twentieth consecutive camp at Garezers will take place in 2000. The first 3x3 camp in Katskili, USA, was organized in 1982 and in Washington state—in 1985. The concept was introduced and found support in other countries, including Latvia, where the first camp was organized in 1990. In 1997, Garezers and Katskili shared the honor of being the 100th camp worldwide. The number of participants exceeds 14,000.
3x3 globally is coordinated by the World Federation of Free Latvians (WFFL) Council on Education. Information can be obtained from Liga Ruperts, WFFL Council on Education Chairperson, firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone: +1 616 456 8023, fax: +1 616 456 5963, address: 2141 Brunsink NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503, USA.
The program varies somewhat from camp to camp and is affected by the number of participants and the availability of qualified presenters. Commonly a number of the following seminars may be included: Latvian politics, history, language, folklore, ethics, art, music, drama; workshops in ethnic arts and crafts, Latvian cooking, folk dancing and folk singing; and activities for children of all ages.
In 1999, 3x3 in Australia took place in Tasmania with 70 participants.
In Latvia, the camp at Jaungulbene had 280, and the camp at Jaunpils—210 participants. Both camps had a wide range of seminars, workshops and other activities, including excursions to historical sites and nature attractions, plays, concerts, campfires sporting events, folk dancing and singing, opportunities to enjoy the saunas at hospitable neighboring farmsteads and many others. More than 50 presenters and participants came from the USA, Canada, Australia, England, Germany, Ireland, Sweden and France, while about 20 were from Russia and Georgia. The election of the new Latvian President, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, provided some high points at each of the camps. On the evening of the fifth day of the Jaungulbene camp, Inese Krumina, President of the Advisory Board of 3x3 in Latvia, her husband Janis, and Liga Ruperts attended The Inaugural Ball at Rundale Castle, while the rest of the campers celebrated with a special evening program and fireworks. The President herself participated in the evening program on the last day of the camp at Jaunpils. 3x3 considers the new President one of its own, because she has been a very popular presenter at numerous camps both in Latvia and abroad, teaching folklore seminars.
In the USA, Garezers had 118 participants, while Katskili drew a record number of 280 participants, 74 of who were under 14 years of age. Both camps often share presenters, especially those from overseas. Janina Kursite, a well-known authority on folklore and literature from Latvia, attracted a large number of participants to her seminars at both camps. Politics, Literature (at Katskili, where one of the presenters was the author of A Woman in Amber, Agate Nesaule) and Language (at Garezers, with Austris Grasis from Germany) were also well attended. Jewelry making has usually been one of the most popular workshops at any camp and remained such in 1999.
Each of the camps in England had approximately 90 participants.
All camps are staffed entirely by volunteers. Presenters as well as camp directors and administrative personnel donate their services.
3x3 camps all over the world continue to provide an excellent meeting ground for Latvians of all ages, backgrounds and countries of residence as well as an outstanding opportunity to participate in an intensive immersion program on Latvian culture and society and to meet the seminar presenters, knowledgeable, well-known Latvian artists, political figures, diplomats, leaders in the community and professionals in various fields of interest.
Chairperson, Council on Education, WFFL
Published in latvian dimensions by the American Latvian Association (ALA), 1999
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