Kids Culture Camp: 16 years and Counting!
Sixteen years ago, on a farm outside of Edmonton Alberta, Terry and Bev LeBlanc started the first Kids Culture Camp (KCC). They had a dream to see Indigenous kids and youth experience a Creator-centered, life-giving family camp environment, where they could enjoy summer activities, while learning more about their unique cultural heritage and traditions. With humble beginnings, KCC began a journey that has continued to this day.
The 16th Annual Kids Culture Camp was an incredible legacy to those initial years of offering the camp. This year we saw 38 kids and youth from around Alberta join us at the Intervarsity Sundre Camp for 5 days of teaching, games, and other activities. We begin each morning as a big group, spending time to smudge, thank Creator for the day and hear a brief teaching around our theme of Kinanaskomitin, Thankfulness (lit. “I thank you” in Woodlands Cree). For the rest of the mornings, we dedicated the time to teachings on the land. Each of the five clan groups would rotate through activities such as traditional drumming and dancing, canoeing, tipi teachings, and exploration and learning’s from the land itself. The afternoons were then filled with camp activities like horseback riding, swimming, crafts, wall climbing, and archery.
This year we also realized the first offering of both a young men’s and young women’s leadership program we call Oskapew. The women’s group was lead by Michelle Nieviadomy and Sam Bird, while the men’s group was lead by Terry and Matt LeBlanc. The program looks at offering young men and women from age 13-16, the opportunity to continue their leadership development through serving the KCC camp week, as well as offering unique learning experiences through the time at KCC. This year we focused on building and participating in a sweat lodge.
The success of the week would not have been possible without the incredible staff and volunteers that committed their time and energy into the camp. We had over 30 Indigenous and non-Indigenous volunteers from across Canada who offered themselves in service of these young people, creating the safe space for the kids to enjoy and experience and atmosphere of love and respect throughout their time. Our partner, Intervarsity Sundre Camp, has continued to walk with us and learn with us on this road of living together in the land in a good way. We are deeply moved by their heart and passion for this camp.
To all who continue to support KCC, as volunteers, staff, or through financial giving, we say Kinanaskomitinan!! “We thank you” and are most grateful for your partnership!