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Camp Igaliq connecting youth with their culture and mentors

Camp Igaliq is a summer camp available for tribal members ages 14-18. The camp provides the opportunity for youth of the region to learn new skills, participate in activities, and work with Kawerak Wellness Mentors. This year, the camp will take place August 8-10 outside of the Nome city limits at the Salmon Lake Lutheran Camp Site.

Participants are selected on a variety of factors. The application process includes a questionnaire about why the the youth wants to participate in Camp Igaliq and what they hope to learn. To attend, applicants must also sign a participation agreement regarding rules and expectations while at camp. Selected campers will fly to Nome on August 7th and return August 11th. All lodging, food, and travel will be provided by the Kawerak Wellness Program. A total of 10 applicants will be selected to attend camp from the Nome and Bering Strait region. Last year, 15 kids attended camp. 

Activities offered at Camp Igaliq include learning from elders, guest presentations, canoeing, hiking, Native dancing, and more. Zoe Okleasik is the Community Wellness Coordinator at Kawerak, and a former camper at Camp Igaluk. She says that camp activities are run by indigenous faculty members which allows for a deeper understanding of indigenous practices and teachings. 

“It’s a lot of culture-based activities. We have a lot of indigenous people facilitating these activities. And so we’ll have things like hunter safety and soapstone carving, or the kids will make seal oil lamps. So it’s really structured in indigenous practices and indigenous teachings.”

The Kawerak Wellness Program is made up of the Northern Alaska Wellness Initiative (NAWI), Community Alcohol Safety Team (CAST), and Coordinated Tribal Assistance Solicitation (CTAS). Okleasik says that by meeting the Kawerak Wellness team and mentors, it gives resources for substance abuse, mental health and more.

“Having those good mentors and people that help would lead you in the right path, I think is a great way to help solve our substance abuse problems in the region. And for the mental health aspect.”

Okleasik adds that the camp does language revitalization which has an ability to connect people with their culture. 

“We do language revitalization and really get people connected with their culture again, because once you are feeling good about yourself, and you feel healthy in your culture then our people ultimately thrive.”

The applications for Camp Igaliq have been extended to July 24th by 4:30pm. You can fax your application  to 844-964-0128 or email it to zokleasik@kawerak.org. Applicants will be notified in regards to their application status. If selected, campers will receive more information regarding flight information and camp information. If you have questions, feel free to contact Zoe Okleasik at 907-443-4363, or Bobby Koezuna at 907-443-4392.

Photo at top: Landscape view of Salmon Lake in June, 2016, courtesy of Adam Fagen via Flickr Creative Commons.

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