Founded in 1974, Kursa is a summer high school based on furthering Latvian culture and language skills. Days at Kursa are filled with classes on Latvian grammar, history, folk dancing and singing. Though on the onset this looks intimidating, classes are only held for half of each day. Afternoons are dedicated to sports and elective activities, and every night there are camp-wide games and entertainment. The end result is a lot of fun combined with extreme educational value. The primary age group for students is 14-18, so the students have the opportunity to utilize and develop social skills on a level far from a summer spent at home. While the school only runs six weeks out of the summer, the friendships formed at Kursa last a lifetime. Throughout this interactive brochure, you will find in depth information about Kursa. In the near future pictures, registration information, and notice of upcoming promotional events in your area will be added so check back soon.
The educational program at Kursa is based on maximizing each student’s capacity to utilize class time, while at the same time, maintaining the constant theme of Latvian language and culture through all activities. Classes are composed of small groups divided by ability in such a way that a student entering Kursa with little or no previous Latvian understanding, will gain as much as a student who is already fluent. Lesson plans are set up by experienced teachers to create a system of learning that will balance interest and content for there is an understanding throughout that it is after all the students’ summer vacation. While there is homework, the assignments are very stimulating and are designed to increase vocabulary and grammar skills through exercises. In addition to this, the repetition and practice offered by the Kursa atmosphere create a solid foundation from which to advance one’s language abilities.
History classes are offered by the possessor of the North American continent’s most brilliant minds Victors Pupols. Pupols offers two history classes, one in English, and one in Latvian depending on the ability of the students. Both offer a comprehensive approach to the fascinating history of Latvia from its centuries of serfdom through the present period of economic development. The valor of Pupols’ lectures, have left Kursa students spellbound for over a decade of summers.
Dancing and Singing
Aside from language and history, Kursa students also engage in daily folk dancing and singing lessons. Folk dancing lessons begin with the introduction of the polka and basic dance technique. By the end of Kursa, first year students and older students alike are dancing complicated choreographies.
Singing lessons are based on Latvian folk songs, Latvian Choir music and more recently composed Latvian music.
At the end of the first three week term, and at the conclusion of the school, large performances are put on in order to exhibit the newly learned skills. Very frequently students of Kursa move on to Latvian choirs and dance groups. (Over 70% of Seattle’s acclaimed Trejdeksnitis dance group have attended Kursa)
Every weekday afternoon students participate in two elective classes of their choosing. The electives run in one-week segments. Electives include the following:
Jewelry making (metal work)
Stain Glass work
Kripitinas (school newspaper)
Sports are very popular at Kursa. Be it in free time or in officially sanctioned tournaments, students spend at the very least an hour a day in fierce athletic competition. The Kursa grounds include a soccer field, a baseball diamond, a basketball court, a swimming pool, volleyball courts and pin-pong tables. Tennis courts are also available at the nearby high school. From varsity athletes to those that are just learning a sport, the Kursa spirit allows for everyone to have a good time at any given sport. Between morning exercises, folk dancing, and sports, it can be said that most students leave Kursa in some of the best shape of their lives and a great tan.
Tautas Bumba (dodge ball)
Every week night at Kursa, there is a camp wide activity. These activities cover a large range of entertainment, from sports to Latvian games to exhibitions of one kind or another. Over the years an array of creative and fun nightly activities has been generated which have become a part of the Kursa tradition. These events are scheduled throughout the six weeks of the school to offer maximum enjoyment and educational value. Some of the more exciting events such as poetry night, happen twice, once each term. Listed below are a few of these activities:
Capture the flag
Acis Mirkstinasana and other Latvian games
Camp VS. Pupols Chess Tournament
Field TripsThe location of Kursa on the Olympic Peninsula puts it in short distance from a number of the most spectacular scenic sites on the West Coast. While a portion of the student body is from Washington State, weekly fieldtrips allow the whole camp to experience the greatness of the surrounding terrain. The trips are full days and involve all of the students piling into school buses for the relatively short drives. Through out the summer, there are trips to Mt. Rainier, Mt. St.Helens, One of the many nearby beaches, Seattle, and the Mason County Fair. These trips are two fold; to take advantage of the site seeing opportunities the location of Kursa provides, and to give students a break from camp life, if only briefly.
Weekends at Kursa began Friday night with a celebration of the completion of the school week with a theme dinner. The themes are set up by the students and involve elaborate decoration and costumes (see pictures below). Saturday is given as a day of rest, and while there are occasionally classes during the first half of the day to make up for the classes missed during the field trip, students have the rest of the day to work on homework, finish projects or take a nap from the busy week. Every Saturday night there is a much awaited Kursa Dance, where students are given the opportunity to take part in social interaction in the form of dancing to some of the best music on earth. Dances are definitely a highlight of Kursa for students because unlike high school dances at home, the atmosphere is very light hearted and allows for more fun.
Sunday is a free day for students to sleep in, do laundry, and prepare for another week of classes. Every Sunday night there is a non denominational service which is put on to a large extent by the students with the guidance of the pastor.
A number of traditions have formed at Kursa through the years, and though they are too many to be explained here, below is a list that may be of some interest.
‘Rocket to the moon’
Kursa Lake Walk
Kursa's Ghosts - Yvette / Suzette