With over 140 children and youth attending Mish Adventures Camp this summer, we relied heavily on the Senior Youth from Mishkeegogamang First Nation to run our day-camp programs each day. Whether it was running a station, leading a group or cooking lunch, this year’s group of Senior Leaders was awesome and really made the camp program what it was.
Our Senior Leadership program has been running for four years, providing youth from Mishkeegogamang with opportunities for leadership development and a space to cultivate their own, unique leadership skills. As the youth have grown, they have been offered full-time jobs as camp staff. Year after year, the youth astonish us as they naturally lead their groups, creatively interact with children and help out throughout the day in so many ways.
This year it was amazing to watch the youth see themselves as leaders and make decisions based on their own confidence, maturity and strength. Whether it was Claudia continuing to lead the same group of twelve 6-8 year olds day after day even when she was tired or Savannah’s desire to join “her girls” (a group of ten 7-9 year old girls) for the day’s activities because “they won’t follow anyone else” even when she was sick, the youth of Mishkeegogamang knew that as leaders they sometimes had to make choices that were not easy, for the good of camp and the children in their community.
One youth that really showed what it means to be a strong leader this year was Zuriel. Zuriel decided to be a group leader this year and be responsible for a group of ten 9-11 year old boys. Day after day, he would gather his boys together and give them a quick pep-talk in the morning about the good choices they could make and how important it is to listen. “Papa Nine”, as he affectionately became known as by the boys of Group 9, encouraged the boys to participate in the camp activities and showed, by example, how to be respectful and responsible. It is these leaders from Mishkeegogamang First Nation that truly highlight what Mish Adventures Camp is - a place to grow and develop who Creator desires you to be. We look forward to continuing this journey with these leaders in the years to come!
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!
Last year’s Kids Culture Camp was incredible! Now we just can’t wait for this year’s Camp. The camp will run from August 7 - 11 this year at the Pioneer Lodge, Sundre, Alberta. Our Oskapew program for older boys was an amazing time spent with 5 young men exploring the journey of becoming great leaders. This program ran alongside and integrated into the regular camping program that is focused on kids 8 to 12 years old. This year, we are excited to run the Oskapew leadership program for both our young women and men; a major expansion to the leadership training component of our camping program. Kids Culture Camp is now in its 16th year providing a safe, holistic, spiritual and cultural environment where lessons of love, trust, respect, honesty, wisdom, courage and humility are lived out communally.
As the years of camping experiences pile up, more and more of these young kids are introduced to a lifestyle that comprises the best of our First nations values and traditions, alongside being introduced to a unique community of caring and unconditional love by leaders who are followers of the Jesus way.
If you would like to help encourage these camps to continue, here are two practical ways:
1.Help send a kid to camp Actual cost is around $450. We try and raise the 250 believing their family or band will come up with $200.
2. Come as a volunteer: contact Lisa Laird at 306-261-3251 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since 2002 Indigenous Pathways (My People and IEmergence), in partnership with other entities, has run the Kids Culture Camp experience for First Nations children from Native communities, foster care families and urban communities. The purpose of the camp is to provide a safe, holistic, spiritual and cultural environment where lessons of love, trust, respect, wisdom, courage and humility are lived out communally. The incredible setting is in the Foothills of the Rockies, not far from Sundre, Alberta. Our completely volunteer staff of around 30 is comprised mostly of First Nations young people and adults, enjoying along with the kids, time on the land, horsemanship, traditional crafts and sports, swimming, story-telling, and campfire time before their nighttime rest in the tipis.
For more on what happens in camp, visit this page.
It is with much anticipation and excitement that the iEmergence Mish Adventures Camp staff have packed their bags and head out from their home communities to travel to Mishkeegogamang First Nation for the 11th year of Mish Adventures Camp. We are delighted to have 14 returning camp staff and to welcome 6 new staff to our team this summer. We are also privileged to have a number of youth from Mishkeegogamang First Nation joining our full-time camp staff. This is definitely one of our favourite parts of camp when the youth come and live with us for three weeks to help plan for the more than 100 children from their community that will attend Kids Camp. We look forward to the time we will spend with children, youth and community members from July 1st until July 31st, reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.
Our theme for Mish Adventures Camp 2017 is Dinamaaganik - All My Relations. We can’t wait to discover and explore the interconnectedness of everything in the universe – the sky, the sun, the wind, the water, the plants, the animals, the land and all of the intricate parts in between – through our theme days this summer. Children and youth will have opportunities to play games, complete art activities, participate in sports, go swimming and hear stories that invite them to uncover the importance of everything around us and the relationships between them. Through the activities children and youth engage in and the conversations they have, they will gain a deeper understanding of their own place within the world and recognize how important it is for everyone and everything to be respected as they each have an important place in creation and a vital role to play in supporting the rest of life around them.
We invite you to take an opportunity to check out the stories, pictures and videos we share throughout our time in Mishkeegogamang First Nation in the month of July so you can explore, learn, grow and laugh with us. Like our page www.facebook.com/iemergence and consider giving towards the future of these young leaders! Miigwetch!
I would like to introduce you to Flora. Growing up in Mishkeegogamang Ojibwe First Nations, Flora has seen and endured many challenges in her community related to the painful scars that her people carry from the history of colonization, the impacts of residential schools and the marginalization many Indigenous People experience. This generational trauma, this seemingly unbearable pain, has led our younger generation to do horrid things to themselves and sometimes to one another – even to their own family members. In the past months, we have seen an increasing number of community youth deciding on suicide as a final answer to the pain they feel. Flora, however, sees great hope for her generation.
Flora has been attending the Mish Adventures Camp program that iEmergence provides in her community for the past 9 years - since she was just 6 years old. In her words,
“Mish Adventures is a camp where we learn how to love, respect, and be honest to each other and just have fun! I've been going to Mish Adventures since I was 6 years old as a camper. At the age of 12, I became a junior leader to help the staff lead a group of kids around the camp activity stations. Then, at the age of 14, I became a senior leader and was able to lead my own group and have my own activity station. I am now 15 years old and I'm becoming a fulltime staff member of Mish Adventures!
Throughout those years, I learned how to become a better leader as I am right now! I love being at Mish Adventures with a lot of caring people. It's wonderful to spend time being outdoors and seeing the kids have fun! I really look forward to this summer! "
Flora sees her home, Mishkeegogamang, as a “community full of leaders and caring people.” She has risen above struggles and hardships, striving to be an example of this leadership to her generation as well as to those that follow her. We are blessed to have seen this growth and healing in her life through the years and are committed to continuing the journey with her and all of the youth that attend our camps.
To address this real need for meaningful experiences for Indigenous children and youth, iEmergence, in partnership with local Indigenous leaders, provides two summer camp programs: Mish Adventures for those in Mishkeegogamang First Nation in Northern Ontario, and Kids Culture Camp for those from First Nation reserves in Southern and Central Alberta. Through these camps, we provide children and youth with the opportunity to explore a variety of new skills and develop meaningful relationships with camp staff in a safe, community-minded environment. As they participate in arts and crafts, sports, team-building games, swimming and learn from cultural stories, teachings and practices they are given the opportunity to step outside of their ordinary routines and imagine the world as a better place.
For more information on what happens in these camps, go to this page.
Sponsor a First Nations child this summer to make their dream of a full life come closer to reality.
For North Americans, you can donate online here!
In this critical time in the lives of these young people, getting to know Jesus, the One who created, loves, and understands them wraps around all the activities. The whole experience imprints powerfully...and for a lifetime.
"There's really no such thing as the 'voiceless'. There are only the deliberately silenced, or the preferably unheard."
- Arundhati Roy