November 03, 2006
Ketchikan, Alaska - For the month of October, PATCHWorks recognizes Ketchikan Indian Community's Culture Camp as the "Asset Builder" of the month. Over the years Culture Camp has become an important means for young people to experience the outdoors and build the assets of positive identity, constructive use of time, commitment to learning and important social and cultural competencies.
Culture Camp originated 17 years ago as an effort to provide career exploration and teach a small group of adolescents about their cultural heritage. Over the years it has grown to accommodate as many as 60 young people. This past summer they had 49 participants ranging in age from 10 - 17 with a staff of 22, including youth and adult counselors, cooks, and instructors. Native preference was given to participants, although non-Native youth had the opportunity to join based on available space. This year's camp was held for one week at Orton Ranch with the theme "Honoring our Youth: Our Leaders of Today."
This year Native Elders were asked to become involved in camp planning. Although unable to actively participate in the actual camping experience, the Elders were asked to select and help to plan the three most valuable and important cultural learning experiences they felt the camp participants should receive. They selected the making of regalia with a focus on tunics, learning survival skills, and Native food preparation which included picking, collecting and preparing berries, Hudson Bay Tea leaves and wild asparagus.
The days' activities were divided into three instructional sections with Haida language and tunic making occurring on a daily basis, and the third section being spent with instruction in fish camp, life skills, story telling, food preparation and survival skills. After dinner, the evenings were spent learning, Native songs and dances.
As a part of the post-camp celebration and evaluation, families were invited to an event to share the fun and celebrate the learning that had occurred for their children through the Culture Camp experience. There are future hopes to expand the Culture Camp to include a day camp for younger children using the older campers as counselors and assistants.
PATCHWorks commends KIC's efforts and involvement in supporting and empowering the youth of Ketchikan through the Culture Camp experience. The Ketchikan community is richer because of this positive asset building opportunity for our young people.
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