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Summer camp connects youth with their roots

Each year, youth from around the region gather at Camp Igaliq to learn new skills, participate in activities, and work with mentors. This year, the summer camp took place at a lakeside campsite outside Nome.

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 provides resources for substance abuse, mental health, and more. As a former camper at Camp Igaliq, she says camp activities are run by Indigenous faculty members which allows for a deeper understanding.

“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.”

“Having those good mentors and people that would help lead you in the right path, I think is a great way to help solve our substance abuse problems in the region.” Okleasik adds that the campers learn to speak and engage with their languages, enabling them to connect more deeply 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.” 

Image at the top: Landscape seen from the site of Camp Igaliq. Photo courtesy of Adam Fagen via Flickr Creative Commons.

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