Japan Summer Camps for High School Students - An International and Educational Adventure

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About

Gakko summer camps are intensive, inspirational and imaginative. High school campers - who take the Japanese term "kohai" - embark on a two week journey, collaborating with seriously passionate college-aged counselors - or "sempai" - to build a unique camp. Each camp is filled with fascinating educational workshops, international connections, and curiosity quenching adventure.

As a 'kohai', you will work alongside the 'sempai' whom we choose for their dream to teach a single high school course to their younger self. Together, you will make a camp that has never existed before; a medical ethics class; exploring physics with an electric guitar; designing a game; a slam poetry session...

As a small community - just 45 kohai and 10 sempai attend each program - you will leave having brought a world of your own to life. You will meet a role-model; know more about the cultures outside your own; understand your learning process, and discover something more in your life as a learner.

Highlights
  • Gakko Camp is our collaborative creation of Kikkake: a Japanese word meaning being 'the spark' for new connections, perspectives, and ideas. 'Sempai' invite 'kohai' high school students to see the world through a new lens and dive into their curiosities.
  • For two/three weeks, in a beautiful location, kohai engage in rigorous workshops, hands-on projects, and collaborations across disciplines.
  • Our 'sempai' have represented academic institutions such as Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Oxford, and Sciences Po, as well as more than 80 nationalities. Their diverse backgrounds and skill sets crack open the 'kohai' curiosity into hands on passion
  • Sempai and kohai collaborate to create a unique learning experience for a diverse group of international high school campers, looking for “something more” in their education and themselves.
  • In a diverse community of friends and mentors, through meaningful international dialogue, kohai build and take ownership over an “undiscovered country”—a vibrant camp community that has never existed before.

Questions & Answers

Reviews

98%
based on 5 reviews
  • Benefits 10
  • Support 10
  • Fun 10
  • Facilities 10
  • Safety 9
  • Growth 8.8
  • Support 10
  • Fun 9.8
  • Housing 9
  • Safety 9.8
Showing 1 - 5 of 5
Default avatar
Makoto
10/10

Gakko 2017

I attended Gakko camp in Japan (2017) and it was probably one of the most valuable, eye-opening and memorable experiences that I have had to date. Being 15 years old (at the time) and wanting to spend my summer with my school friends and on holiday overseas, I was not really looking forward to the idea of a 2 week summer camp. I really had no idea what to expect. Spending every second of 2 weeks with the Kohai and Sempai allowed for us to connect with each other in a way that I had never previously imagined possible. I made friends that I have no doubt will be in my life in the future. The whole experience really helped me to become a better person and gain insight into other cultures, peoples lives around the world and socialize with people a lot older than me, which helped me see where I may want to go in the future and what I may want to do. I will most definitely attend the camp again sometime in the near future and highly recommend the camp to anyone!

How can this program be improved?
Gakko was one of the few near perfect experiences that I have had. The only thing I might change is the duration of the camp. Although 2 weeks may sound like a long time, it really isn’t enough...
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Jameela
10/10

Best Experience of My Life

It was an unbelievable summer. The sempais were specialised in a variety of fields from Philosophy to International Relations to Literature to Art. The camp really gave me the opportunity to try new things. We played ultimate frisbee, football, volley ball and table tennis in our free time at the gorgeous French chateau. The rooms were large, airy and very comfortable and all facilities were provided. Water bottles, tea, snacks, toiletries etc.
All the sempais were very open minded and kind. They were not like the typical teacher. They wanted to know your opinion or idea, and they encouraged you to think out of the box.
I had many new experiences like poetry slamming, gazing at the stars, roasting marshmallows, learning dif card games, drama workshops and having a picnic by the lake in Joigny, France.
The food was amazing- they catered to food restrictions. Halal, vegan, vegetarian and kosher food was provided. Our chefs were Japanese so we got to try their cuisine as well as continental food and French food. They celebrated our birthdays so we had tons of incredible cake, icecream, pizza, grilled meat and other fun stuff. Of course meals uber nutritious too. There was salad and fresh fruit at every meal for crying out loud.
At least once in your life, experience Gakko. It's mysterious, and exciting- they don't tell you what's next on the schedule. So you learn to go with the flow and brace yourself, knowing that whatever will happen will be amazing.
I made many life long friends from across the continent and learnt different ways of thought and behaviour.
I actually cried when I had to leave because everyone felt like family. Omg. Just go, for God's sake!
The sempais were very helpful. I accidentally dropped my phone and cracked the screen. I was so worried but the sempais were so understanding and helped me keep in contact with my family. One of them even offered to get it repaired at the local store!
I suggest if you have time, come a few days before the camp or stay in the country and do some sightseeing. I came a day early and went to the Louvre Museum and ate at a local cafe. It was awesome.
If you are afraid that you won't get selected or that u can't afford to come, don't worry. Some of the campers were actually refugees and came on a full scholarship. I came on a partial scholarship. You won't know until you apply.
Best of luck!

How can this program be improved?
Can anyone improve perfection? Maybe make it longer-term a month or two?
Oh, I got one. Personally, I come from India where food is really flavourful and spiced. So I found the food a bit bland for my tastes sometimes. And some more varieties of eggs in the morning would be great. Like fried eggs with halal bacon-mmm....
Yes, I recommend
Default avatar
Shinnosuke
10/10

Shinn's Review of GAKKO

I attended GAKKO both during the 2013 and 2014 sessions. To put it simply, the experience during the two sessions were incredible and enlightening. The unique relationship between the "senpai" and "kohai" is what I believe makes the program so successful. GAKKO is a place where a diverse, intelligent, and motivated group of senpai and kohai can come together and share their remarkable life stories and beliefs.

How can this program be improved?
There were times when I observed a divide between native English speakers and those who struggled to communicate their thoughts in English. Perhaps, working on a solution to unify the two groups would be a huge improvement!
Yes, I recommend
Rheza
9/10

Friendships and Purpose.

There were two oppurtunities at Gakko that was responsible for most of the impact Gakko had on me.

The first opportunity is meeting all the interesting people at Gakko, from all over the world, with different ways of thinking and living. Gakko is perhaps the place where I learned the most about people and cultures besides UWC. What really surprised me was how quickly we got to know each other and form relatively deep relationships within 10 days. I think that the knowledge that we're all there to grow as purposeful people and interact with likeminded people really helped a lot socially. I learned a lot from my friends, and even more amazingly they taught me a lot about myself. The conversation I had as part of Dora's workshop was especially meaningful.

The second is the opportunity to start creating our purpose. I believe that life has no purpose other than what you give to it, and Gakko really helped me in that process. Kenta's workshop about dreams, and the discussions (internal and external) that followed, was especially impactful. To this day I try to improve my answers to the list of questions he posed to us that day.

How can this program be improved?
I think Gakko should focus their program to maximize its two main impact points - the oppurtunity to learn about people and yourself through friendships, and the oppurtunity to learn how to create your purpose. The other more skill-based workshops were also fun, but could be more focussed towards these ends. At the end of the day, 10 days is much too short to introduce people to skills for the sake of skills in isolation - but introducing people to skills and knowledge so that we can better learn about people and ourselves and create our purpose would be really impactful in my opinion. One example that comes to mind was Joyce's workshop about inequality. That was something I thought a lot about during Kenta's workshop about dreams, and what we reflected on during that workshop continues to guide my purpose today.

Also, I wish I had gone when I was younger. It would've been nice to start thinking about defining my purpose when I was younger. I felt lost for much of high school because I hadn't thought about leading a purposeful life until maybe junior year of high school. I think Gakko would've had an even bigger impact on my life had I gone a couple years earlier.
Yes, I recommend
Miriam
10/10

a transforming summer

I participated in GAKKO 2016 and flew to Bali, Indonesia with no expectations.
As soon as I landed, an adventure which would impact my life completely would happen-
Through workshops where I discovered new passions and understood things I did not like, through exploring a foreign environment and culture, through emerging myself into an international community, through finding a place in people's hearts from all over the world, through deep minded, thoughtful and inspiring human beings and through exposing myself to something out of my comfort zone, I grew.
My heart grew.
My mind grew.
And my comfort zone grew.

Who ever is thinking about applying for this program, I promise you, you will not regret it. It has been one of the most beautiful experiences in my life and I hope you out there will have the same honour to be exposed to something like this.

How can this program be improved?
Everything you learn, you want to share with all the participants during the camp, but 2 weeks is definitely not enough to do so. You would probably need a whole life time.

(but that is why I am still in touch with so many of them - which is simply beautiful)
Yes, I recommend

About Gakko Summer Camps

Since 2012, Gakko has brought together teams of driven & empathetic individuals from around the world to design a two-week summer camp for curious high schoolers around the world. Each camp is imagined, designed, and run, entirely from the ground up....