ITT-OTT Conference

Hajnal Minger
(Ann Arbor, MI)

Anyone planning to spend a week of their summer vacation at the ITT-OTT camp can expect to enjoy both physical and spiritual renewal. A glance at the list of presentations of the past forty years attests to the multitude of cultural workshops available. Over the course of five days, every morning we have two or three presentations where we explore and discuss not only Hungarian culture, but also the general Hungarian situation and the Hungarian diaspora. The topics are versatile and we strive to make them relevant to current events. It would be impossible to summarize the excellent programs we have had over forty years; instead we suggest you look at our past invitations in order to get a better picture of our programs and guest presenters. And while you look, please note that we provide a Hungarian-themed program for all our English-speaking friends and their families!

The positive spirit of the camp is enriched not only by the morning presentations, but also by the entertaining evening programs and the various group activities. Our regular programs bring to life Hungarian literature and theater and performances of classical music as well. Entertainment includes a Hungarian folk music band, which is an integral part of the not to be missed evening táncház (an evening beginning with simple instruction for the uninitiated dancer and exploding into joyful folk dancing for all). Our evening presentations are followed by informal gatherings that allow us to get to know each other better while enjoying the wonderful taste of freshly made palacsinta (crepes) or lángos (elephant ears). In addition to this, our young people light a campfire every evening and send its smoke winding toward the sky in the accompaniment and embrace of Hungarian songs.

 ITT-OTT Conference, through the eyes of the MBK youth organization

Our shared noon meals are a tradition of many years standing. Under the shades of trees surrounding our cabins, these mealtimes provide a wonderful opportunity for getting to know each other and our overseas guests, easing the transition of new friends into our ITT-OTT camp life. They also give our youth an opportunity for togetherness and intergenerational conversations and exchange of views and ideas. And let’s not forget that these shared meals give us an opportunity to taste all our favorite Hungarian dishes!

Our traditional group picnic is an important part of our week. It is impossible to express in words the wonderful aroma that rises around the camp fire. While the kolbász (Hungarian smoked sausage) and bacon grease is dripping from the dozens of skewers held over the open campfire, the goulash soup is steaming from the cauldron over the open fire! After the meal, the evening continues with an unforgettable experience of collaboration including Hungarian music, impromptu sketches and presentations by members and guests alike, all presided over with humor by our Master of Ceremonies. That morning an excursion is organized for all who would like to enjoy the beauty of the area and to familiarize themselves with its rich Hungarian past.

I would emphasize that every member of the Lake Hope community contributes in some manner to the creation of the week’s unique Hungarian world. Consider these words to be your invitation; we affectionately welcome all of you, so that in the future our community may be even richer in spirit and friendship.