We are well into the period of Latvian emigree history when the various organizations founded during the first years in the U.S. are celebrating their 60th and even 65th anniversaries. One such celebration is the 60th of ‘’Nometne”, the children’s summer camp of the Latvian Luthern Church of New York. While these anniversaries are often marked with a single gathering of folks who have had a tie to the organization over the years, ‘’Nometne’’ is marking the occasion with a series of six events: 6 uz 60, or 6 to 60.
The purpose of this article is to highlight one of the six events that reflects a hallmark of Nometne. In the late 1980s, when the demographics of the emigree community began to change, one of the camp sessions was planned for English-speaking children of Latvian heritage. For many years this session was called ‘’Valodas periods’’ or ‘’Language session’’, but more recently has adopted the name ‘’Heritage Camp.’’ A generation of campers has enjoyed the beautiful setting of Nometne and the sense of belonging to a unique community that has is roots in Latvia, despite not speaking Latvian. The original intent to teach Latvian has, over time, transformed to a more realistic goal of teaching useful phrases, songs, and folk dances- providing a multi-faceted introduction to the campers’ Latvian heritage apart from fluency in Latvian.
This summer, as one of the six highlights of the 6/60 Anniversary program, Heritage campers will have an extra boost of culture and authenticity to their program with the song and “danči’’ sessions led by “Imanta and Dimanta”. This duo of high energy, musically gifted young ladies arriving from Latvia, will be teaching singing and the easy-to-learn ‘’danči’’, that are akin to square dancing. Imanta Nīgals grew up in the U.S., attended Nometne as a child, and has moved to Latvia. There she met Katrīna Dimanta and the two have been singing and playing together, along with other musicians in various venues and with various musicians, but many will know her from their exuberant performances at the well-known “Ala” bar and folk music club in Riga. This addition to the Heritage program, as well as an interactive theater workshop from Riga for the second session of Latvian program campers was made possible by a generous grant from the government of Latvia, with the aim of strengthening cultural ties between Latvia and its diaspora.
The 6 to 60 events were launched in late April with an examination of the personalities and contributions of the Latvian Lutheran Chuch under whose auspices the camp was established, ‘’Elles ķēķis’’ or ‘’Hell’s Kitchen’’ group of Latvian artists and writers to the Latvian community based in the metropolitan New York area. The remaining five events will take place at Nometne. Four will be an enhancement of the camping sessions during the summer. All aim to further establish Nometne as a place that provides the social and cultural ties that establish the sense of belonging to the Latvian community. The final event on September 17-18, “The Road to Nometne” will be a weekend of outdoor events ranging from a short 0.6mile walk, to 6km runs, to 60 km bike tours, and everything inbetween (but probably a distance that is a factor of 6). For furthur information regarding all 6 to 60 events see nydraudze.org, and click on the 6/60 anniversary page. These anniversary programs promise to engage and provide a lasting cultural boost for all age groups from “Īkšķīši” toddlers and their parents to campers and their counselors. Heritage Camp, Heritage Īkšķīši , as well as the Latvian sessions still have space available; registration is also thru nydraudze.org, and the camp registration page. We look forward to seeing new and established campers and their families!
Foto: Vera Ūdra
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