Youth Soar at Summer Camp Rise
by Daniel Rowell, Camp Coordinator
Summer Camp Rise was held from July 7th through August 1st. We had 79 students attend camp this year. Students ranging from the 2nd – 8th grades participated in the camp. These students showed up each day with a smile and excited to enjoy the wide array of activities we provided. Most of these youth had near perfect attendance records. The camp was facilitated by NAYA staff and Summer Works Program Interns, adult and youth volunteers, and community partners.
During camp we offered new enrichments for the youth. Our camp staff worked together to facilitate classes in cultural arts, contemporary arts, cultural education, sports, cooking, gardening, dance, and forestry. Students worked with Lee-Ann Foster, Valerie Nelson, and Theresa Smith to learn intensive beading techniques in order to make beaded hair sticks, daisy chains, beaded earrings and broaches, Dentalia Necklaces, and Par fleche crafting. We offered classes led by Theresa Smith and Carlos McNair in metal stamping, perler bead magnets and beeswax candle making, wood burning and tape work art, and spray paint art. Additionally, a Powwow education class was offered by Carlos McNair and Val Nelson to build knowledge about its history and protocols. Students participated in a variety of sports clinics with Micah Johnson, Ray Shadowens, and Paige Smith including: basketball, lacrosse, soccer, golf, softball, kickball, flag football, track meet games, and volleyball. We also treated students to other games that allowed them to get exercise while having fun such as capture the flag, sharks and minnows, fun water games with Paige Smith, and a game that our own Micah Johnson created called “Trading Season”. During our cooking classes Theresa Smith and Lilah Walsh taught students how to make berry jam, quinoa salads, fresh vegetable snacks, and healthy smoothies. These cooking classes and other classes often involved work in the NAYA garden as well. Lilah Walsh also led students in dance classes incorporating ballet, hip hop dance, and Native American dance led by Chenoa Landry. Ray Shadowens taught students orienteering skills during our forestry class. We rewarded our students with weekly Friday fieldtrips each week. Our students and staff went to the movies, visited OMSI, and had a great time at Oaks Amusement Park.
We had great opportunities this year to partner with outside organizations to provide additional enrichments for our youth. We formed new relationships with several groups. The First Tee program brought golf resources and education to the camp students. The Bike Rodeo program introduced our students to greater awareness of bike safety and helped several of our students to learn how to ride a bike. We had an amazing opportunity to partner with OMSI and Portland Public Schools teacher Stephanie Kelley to bring a Native American youth specific curriculum to our camp. This was a pilot program being planned by OMSI to create Native American Science exhibits. Students researched and created an Environmental and Cultural Restoration Project, participated in presentation from a Portland State University scientist, and interviewed one of our local Native American Elders, Linda Meanus. The projects created by the students were featured at OMSI the following week. For the second summer in a row we were visited by the Oregon State University Mobile Engineering Team that exposed our 7th – 8th grade students to engineering concepts through fun activities like mini-catapult making and construction of mini-solar cars. The university students leading these activities also presented to the students about college opportunities and campus life. We continued our partnership with Oregon Health and Sciences University’s Listening for Life Program. Our 4th and 5th grade students worked with Ga-Lo Vann for four separate educational interventions around hearing loss awareness and prevention culminating in a group presentation at our end-of-camp Student Showcase.
At our Student Showcase we displayed the artwork of the students. We also honored each student with a certificate for their dedication and success during the camp. Raffles were held with big prizes for the youth. We also raffled of some prizes for our parents and Elders in attendance. On our final Friday of camp we hosted students and their families for a barbecue and mini-carnival complete with inflatable obstacle courses and other fun games, a dunk tank, juggling lessons, and sno-cones.
This year’s camp was a great success. As with previous years the kids didn’t want to see it come to an end. The overwhelming amount of heartfelt thanks that we received from parents was also a reinforcement of the amazing work of our staff: Micah Johnson, Theresa Smith, Ray Shadowens, Lilah Walsh, Lee-Ann Foster, Carlos McNair, Paige Smith, and Val Nelson. We’re proud to continue to offer a culturally enriching camp that builds character and confidence, fosters health and wellness, and uncovers talents among our youth.