"You have to come and enjoy the camp to believe what all you can learn."
Written by Cheryl Evan, Culture Camp Director for 23 years. She passed away in December 2014.
Our annual culture camp is open to young people, Kindergarten through 12th grade. The 7th through 12th grade young people are Overnight Campers. They start right from day one through the last day. But they set up the camp, which means they put up all the tents, smoke house, outhouses, etc. and make sure that the camp is all set for the week. The Kindergarten through 6th grade are Daytime Campers.
When the Daytime Campers arrive at camp they go down to the main camp area before they find out what the presenters have ready for them to do for the day, such as: go out and pick berries from around the camping area, clean the berries, mash the berries so that the Overnight Campers can make jam later or go right to the stations that are set up for them so that all the campers can visit each station and participate in everything that is available that day such as doing an art project with an artist, playing a game, working with the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Coast Guard, etc. They also clean gumboots (Chiton) and prepare them for pickling or freezing for the end of the week. If they have extra clothes and a towel they are permitted to go swimming after they participated for about two hours. Then everyone has a snack before the Daytime Campers prepare to leave camp for the day.
After the Daytime Campers leave, the Overnight Campers clean the camp area and then have free time until it is time to get ready for dinner which our cooks bring down to the camp. The cooks are very good since they know what the campers like. Our campers don’t eat the food that they work on since we have a Community Potluck on the last day of the camp, which everyone from the community is invited to the camp.
Our Overnight Campers move the camping gear, set up camp, and work on all the food that is brought into the camp. The community donates the subsistence food that they work on. By the community we mean the fishermen (from all over) and everyone else. Some of the food that are donated as well as the campers going out to get themselves is listed below:
The food listed above is just to name a few. People have donated fruit and vegetables that they bought from the grocery store or grew in their gardens.
I also invite various organizations or providers to come and do a presentation or project with the campers. If the project isn’t appropriate for the Daytime Campers then they do the project with the Overnight Campers. Some of the presenters that attend annually are: SEARHC Doctor Valerie Edwards, Mark McCullum, USFS, Jane Smith, USFS, U.S. Coast Guard Boating Safety Officer, SEARHC Environmental Health Water Safety, Kake District Magistrate Mike Jackson, Kake Health Aids, U.S. Fish and Game Officer, etc. just to name a few. Everyone understands that the presentations have to be put on the back burner if subsistence food comes into the camp. Most of them bring their tents and camp right with the campers. The campers really enjoy them doing that. Of course, we all enjoy that also since that means more help for us workers at the camp.
We usually request the U.S. Coast Guard helicopter come over and visit the campers. This gives them a chance to look at the helicopter and meet the crew. Living here in Kake means that if there is an emergency that is life or death then the helicopter is called in. No one is allowed to go up to the airport while they are in so having the campers look it over and meet the people that help the community keeps their curiosity down. The campers really enjoy meeting the crew and the crew is very helpful and patient with them also.
The last day of camp we have a Community Potluck like I said at the beginning of the letter. The campers and staff cook all the food that the camp worked on all week. The community people bring desserts/salads/whatever else they want. This usually happens about 1 p.m. on the last day. After the potluck all the Overnight Campers and staff move the camping gear back to the warehouses and store them for the next year.
I believe that I mentioned a little of what happens in our culture camp but you have to come and enjoy the camp to believe what all you can learn. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at the above address or phone.