Drumming, dancing, and constructing tipis are not typical activities during summer camps, but for Kids Culture Camp for native youths in Alberta, that’s what camp is all about.
For the past four years, the Edmonton (Alberta) Native Healing Centre, a ministry of the Christian Reformed Church, together with My People International, have organized Kids Culture Camp for youths ages 8-12 years.
The kids come from reserves and urban settings across Alberta to learn about the gospel story using Cree language and symbols. The Cree make up one of the largest groups of First Nations people in North America
Harold Roscher is director of the Centre and a member of Inglewood CRC in Edmonton. “The smiles, hugs, and laughter tell me our camp [is] successful beyond our wildest dreams,” he said.
“Camps generally are either steeped in native spirituality or focused only on the Christian tradition. Our camp teaches traditional games, dance, and ceremony centered in Jesus. We believe as aboriginal people the Creator gave us gifts to share in community, and sharing those gifts looks and feels different.”
More than 60 kids attended this year, which Roscher said speaks to the acceptance of the camp in both the native and church communities. “Throughout camp children are exposed to thinking about the Creator, Jesus, and just how close he walks with us daily,” he said. “This year our teachings came from the Cree tipi poles. Within a Cree tipi, each pole has a meaning, for example faith, hope, and love. In the Cree language these concepts are expressed as verbs, not pronouns or nouns. These words and teachings demand action … as a response to the Creator’s love of us.”
Kimberly Roscher was excited to be at the camp with her father and to be a tipi leader and camp counselor. “Camp is such an amazing time,” she exclaimed. “I look forward to participating every year. My favorite part of camp is sleeping in the tipis and smudging with the kiddies.”