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Can summer camp be the key to turning things around for good on the reservation?

Outside its 94 degrees with a decisively blue sky and not a single cloud in sight. Here on the Ft. Peck Reservation in Poplar, MT you will find kids of all ages having the experience of a lifetime during the LHNC summer camp. As you look around you notice there are a whole bunch of activities going on. Out on the court there are NBA players teaching the kids not only about the game of basketball, but about the game of life. In another area, the Native American language is being spoken and the children are taught ancient tribal customs and ways. Some kids will do sweat lodge ceremonies and smudging. After basketball, there is a player or two from the NHL showing the kids street hockey and the importance of sportsmanship. An Auschwitz survivor talks about her ordeals and the message for all of our lives. A mindfulness coach talks about his journey out of drugs and alcohol and how he now helps professional athletes and everyone else in between. There is also a music pod where kids are being taught to play musical instruments. Across the way, a Chiropractor shows the kids the importance of healthy living and having an above the line attitude. All these incredible humanitarians assembled for one reason: to restore health, hope and dignity to the kids.

Is this a dream or a reality you may ask, and I am pleased to say that it will soon be a reality. Coming this summer to Ft. Peck will be an intensive, but fun, mixture of classroom and outdoor activities that will awaken a sense of possibility and a sense of hope in the Native American kids. It probably leans heavily toward summer camp, instead of summer school. The learning will be experienced, not drilled into their heads lecture style. It is our hope that while the kids may be learning vital life skills, they won’t feel the pressure and drain so often associated with school. After all, experiential learning is the fastest and longest lasting learning known.

These kids are going to grow in ways that can’t be measured directly. Their health, along with the choices they make and even the reservation as a whole, will start to be cleaned up and will be a crown jewel for people to raise their families on.

Can a summer camp hold the key to positive change on the reservation and beyond? Stay tuned to find out as the dates will be announced in the next couple of weeks!

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