Blog Editors: Maverick (Minnesota) and Kampamba (Zambia)
Hi to all of the families, friends, alumni, and supporters of Camp Rising Sun! As we are wrapping up the last week of Camp, there are so many things to be done. Camp goes by in an instant, especially for the first year campers, so these last few days together have been a whirlwind of planning, overplanning, and trying to squeeze in as much fun as possible while we are still together! This last blog post of the 2019 Second Session will cover a variety of topics related to (but not limited to) a reflection on CRS as an experience, and more specifically the events and traditions that have taken place in the last week. Enjoy!
Lazlo Torok (Colorado)
Meet the Blog Editors
Hello everyone! I’m Maverick, one of your Blog Editors for this week. I’ve been having a great time at Camp, and I will miss each and every one of my newfound family members as the time winds down in the fourth week of CRS. Here’s a little about myself: I currently live in Minnesota but have lived in South Dakota, Washington, and Canada. I play bass guitar; I’m super tech-savvy; I play basketball, and I’m passionate about music. I am Native American from the Dakota tribe. I am also active with the tribe, and I practice Dakota spirituality myself. I heard about Camp when my teachers referred a select number of students to apply for CRS. Past alumni of CRS came to my school and told us all about the program and what to expect. I heard constantly how life-changing it was, but I couldn’t understand how spending 4 weeks in a tent could change my life. I spent the first couple weeks looking for some life-changing experience, but there is no big moment that just instantaneously changes your life. All the late-night tent talks, the mysterious councils, the Camp culture, meeting people from all over the world, and each little bonding memory makes this camp so life-changing. I am so glad I got to go to this camp and love all my new family members.
Hello everyone! I’m Kampamba, also one of your blog editors of the week. I’ll be sharing all the interesting events that happened at Camp to try to keep all friends, family and Alumni updated with what happened this week. Here is a little about myself: I come from Zambia, love sports, enjoying being at CRS and I’m also this weeks blog leader. I heard about CRS through my school which selects one student each year to participate in CRS each year and I was fortunately chosen to go to Camp. I was not so keen on going for a four week camp over the holiday at first, as I thought there are better things to do, but being here for the past three weeks has shown me how much of a positive impact this camp has had on my life. Anyway, sit back and relax, hope you enjoy enjoy the content we have prepared for you.
Last Days of Camp
On the first day of Camp, one month seemed like an eternity, however the weeks have flown by at an unfathomable speed. Each day seems to pass slowly, but every morning, it seems impossible to think that yesterday is already gone. Over the course of Camp, so many memories have been created within the CRS 2019 Second Session’s family. We have all learned about more names, faces, personalities, and cultures than any of us could have imagined.
There’s a saying that you can only really appreciate what you have when it’s gone. At the end of the day, I think this has some truth to it at Camp. In the moment, many boys are usually just thinking about how much fun they are having, or how much they look up to other campers. Being present at CRS almost goes without saying. You have a group of individuals from so many walks of life that interact socially, without the use of technology. It becomes very easy to imagine that you always lived at Camp—that you’ve never experienced any other way of life—and there are always plenty of activities, games, and conversations to be had. Boredom has been eliminated—not by the use of cell phones as a distraction—but by the joy of life at Camp.
As the last day of Camp grows closer and closer, many of us are trying really hard not to focus too much on what we will do afterwards. It is very difficult to focus on the moments that matter, the ones you will want to remember for the rest of your life, when in just a few short days, all 63 of us campers will disperse and re-enter global society and all of our different homes. This process is something that only the Second Year Campers have had experience with. On Monday of this week (August 19th), the 2YCs gave us first years an instruction along with Laura, the Camp Director, about returning to our normal lives. Many of the Second Years shared similar stories and memories about their post-Camp lives. In this instruction, the imminence of the end of Camp and the vastness of the world became very clear.
As one of our counselors, Tiffany (Missouri), said during her Council speech last Thursday: “We are only going to be here together like this for one last week, and then we will never be here again.” She used a roundabout as a metaphor to describe our journeys through Camp and our individual navigations of the world. Tiffany said that we are all cars on the road. This road came from 63 different directions, yet all of our cars merged onto a roundabout. For the past month, we have been embracing our time together, circling this roundabout again and again with every new day, but at the end of Camp, all of the cars will bid each other farewell, heading off on their own path through life. Maybe someday we will stop at a traffic light and notice another car from the roundabout of CRS, but we will never be all together in this one place as we are now, and have been for the past month.
I think almost every single camper has valued the experience of CRS immensely, and as we prepare to part ways, it’s important to remember that we still have each other, even if we aren’t in the same space anymore.
Lazlo Torok (Colorado)
Vigils – A Night in the Woods
This week on Sunday, campers went for Vigils! In case you don’t know what Vigils are, Vigils is a day, usually on the last week of Camp, when campers go out into the woods and spend a night writing a letter to themselves which will be kept by the Camp and sent to them on their 21st birthday. How cool! I personally would be really excited to receive a letter sent by myself 6 years ago.
The day before Vigils, campers spend time preparing themselves for it. They are given a list of things to take to their sites and instructions on how to start a fire which all campers had to attend.
On the day of Vigils, campers had more time to prepare, which was used to carry all their firewood and buckets of water to their spots. After taking all their stuff to their spots, the campers ate dinner and gathered at Cabin Hill to start the Vigils. Even though they were sweaty and tired after all the preparation, the campers were still excited and motivated. Unfortunately, right as everybody was headed to Cabin Hill, a huge rainstorm started. Vigils had to be canceled and pushed to the next day. But on the bright side, we got to watch a movie (Coco!).
The next day ran smoothly, with no signs of a storm, so the Vigils was sure to happen. We gathered at Cabin Hill for the second time and, since most things were discussed the other day, the assembly finished quickly.
One by one each camper went through the entrance to the woods with only the information they got a day ago, a few matches, and the letter paper that will bring them so much happiness in the next 5/6 Years to come. It’s funny how all of the tough talk and eagerness that had been expressed throughout the day changed right before actually going into the woods. Even though some campers were nervous, the night went by without any problems. At 7:30, all campers were woken up, put out their fires, and headed back to Camp. Covered in bugs, and smelling like smoke from the fire, campers shared their experiences with each other before heading back to bed. All that’s left is to wait for their 21st Birthday.
Tee Pee Project
Camp Rising Sun is a camper-led Camp, and that’s part of what makes the experience so remarkable. We have teamworks to keep the kitchen, dining hall, bathrooms, etc., clean, and we have projects to add to the Camp. Projects can take many forms but they all have one thing in common: campers are working together to better CRS. If there is something campers want to change or fix, then it’s up to them to do it. When I started talking to other campers about changing the Tee Pee tent name they showed support for the idea. Again, when I brought it up during the Cultural Exchange evening program, other campers agreed it should be changed.
So, in this last week after many campers finished their other projects, a group of us came together and decided to change the name. Members of the project group include Jackson, Lazlo, Rasmus, Gabriel C., Vittorio, Sam, and I (Maverick). We wanted to keep Camp traditions when renaming the Tee Pee tent. There is a tent named Nirvana at the Red Hook campus, but not at the Clinton campus. We decided to rename the Tee Pee tent to Nirvana to keep the tradition. The current members of the Tee Pee tent have proudly embraced their newly named tent and CRS as a whole has gotten more inclusive and welcoming to Native American culture as a result.
Maverick Eagle (Minnesota)
Below is an interview done with Maverick (Minnesota) conducted by Sam (Minnesota) about the use of Native American culture in CRS traditions:
Sam: What’s your opinion on using sachem?
Maverick: Well, from what I’ve heard, sachem was used as another word for leader derived from the Algonquin language. The Girls 2018 session decided to stop using the word for a variety of reasons, spanning from the power dynamic between the cultures to the cloudiness of why we were using this word in the first place. Personally, as someone who has never gone to Camp with this word being used, I don’t know the full story of this word and why it was used. But I can say that taking a random word from a “less powerful” culture and using it in a disrespectful matter is not okay. The whole idea of using this word seems a bit pointless to me. I understand that it is a long-lasting Camp tradition to use sachem, but making people from everywhere feel welcomed and safe during CRS is as well.
S: What are your thoughts on the tent “Tee Pee”?
M: First of all, the word is misspelled; It should be “Tipi.” Just this alone makes me feel like whoever chose this tent name was misinformed about Native American culture. Also, the tent stone for Tee Pee that you line up behind for assemblies looks like it just says “Pee Pee” on it, which feels like a mockery of the word. Ironically, I was put into this tent when I first arrived to CRS. When I realized which tent I was put into, and saw the mockery and misspelling of the word, I didn’t feel like my culture was respected, and I didn’t feel welcome as a Native American. I brought this up during an Evening Program discussing cultural appropriation, and people agreed that it should be changed. I lead the project to change the name of the tent. The project two weeks between tent talks with a counselor, discussing it during an evening program, working with campers to choose a different name and doing the work to replace the sign. We felt like we were destroying the memory of the tent’s history by changing the name. So, to keep the tradition of Red Hook we choose a tent name from the Red Hook campus, “Nirvana.” Campers in this project include Jackson (Louisiana), Gabriel C. (Ecuador), and Sam (Minnesota) then grew to include Lazlo, Rasmus, and Vittorio. The name “Nirvana” had been used for one of the stalls in Clinton campus, but not a tent. So, the Nirvana stall was renamed Pee Tree*. The Tee Pee tent sign was moved to the art studio*.
S: How can we represent your culture, without being offensive or disrespectful?
M: The answer to this question is very tricky, because it can vary from person to person and tribe to tribe. In my opinion, the piece of culture that is being used should be shared by someone who is active and well informed in their culture. You should be well-informed on the culture and be genuine while using it. It should be a respectful celebration of the culture with consent, instead of misinformed mockery.
S: Thanks for sharing your thoughts.
M: No problem, thanks for asking.
*Camp leaders are planning to use the Tee Pee tent sign in next years evening program on cultural appropriation to ensure that further learning can come from it. The Pee Tree sign was removed from in front of the Nirvana, previously Tee Pee, tent.
The Front-Yard Garden
Kampamba: hey Olivia!
Olivia: Hey Kampamba!!!
K: So we noticed your garden outside the offices earlier at the beginning of Camp and it grabbed our attention. But that’s not the reason why I wanted to add it to our blog, but because apparently you started the garden not so long ago. So when did you start to plant in the garden?
O: The space in front of the main building has always been a place for lots of weeds. Every year people propose planting a garden as a project but there is never enough time to have things grow. That is why this year, 2019, I decided that I would plant one before all the campers came for everyone to enjoy the whole season.
K: What made you want to start a garden and in that particular area?
O: This space on campus has the most sun all parts of the day for the area which is most accessible. I also was hoping the sunflowers would bloom and everyone would get to see them. The buckwheat bloomed though and Cameron’s bees enjoyed that very much!
K: What plants are in the garden?
O: There is quite a variety of plants in the garden. Helene planted several flowering perennials before everyone got here and I added some annual flowers including buckwheat, clover, nasturtiums, marigolds and sunflowers. Alongside the flowers are a bunch of vegetables including zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, chard, eggplant and tomatoes. The most surprising plant which has succeeded is our little watermelon plant who has one watermelon growing. :)
K: Is it hard to start a garden and what exactly is required to start a garden?
O: Starting a garden is the easiest part of growing plants. They require constant care and support. They need weeding, watering, nutrients and love. You need to be willing to care for them and take time to get dirty and hot. The plants do not wait for when you are ready to care for them, they ask for it when they need it and one must be ready to provide that. I encourage everyone to plant a garden. Growing food and flowers asks a lot from us as people and enables us to learn about the plant world first hand.
K: Is the garden completed?
O: The garden is never complete. The most beautiful part about gardens is that they are never done. Just as all the fruits have grown and the plants begin to die, the decay process begins which enables the soil and the earth to grow more fertile. Hopefully next year the soil will be healthier and deeper and support more life. Gardens in this way can act as a lesson in embracing the seasons and the cycles which exist around us.
K: Lastly, what are your future plans for the garden?
O: The sunflowers will be blooming soon for Cameron’s delight and I plan to come up this fall to turn the soil and pick any remaining vegetables. I hope next year whether I am here or not someone will plant some more plant friends to grow alongside the community.
K: Thank you for answering the questions Olivia
O: Thank you, I hope you plant some flowers when you get home too!
Gender & Power Evening Program
Toxic masculinity, power dynamics and feminism. These topics were covered in the Gender and Power evening program here at CRS. The program was discussion based and campers were given a lot of time to think of what these topics mean to them. The first major topic covered was Dimensions and Power. In this section of the program Olivia (Colorado) explained all three dimensions of oppression using power. Campers were then asked to write down their thoughts about what masculinity and toxic masculinity mean to them. Afterward campers created one big circle and were asked to step towards the middle of the circle if a statement applies to them. Statements included: I feel comfortable to show my feelings in my closer enviroment; Homosexuality is accepted where I am from; Men in my family usually get the last say. The activity helped to spark a 25 minute discussion in smaller groups. Campers gathered together again and they were explained the core idea of feminism. Counselors then shared some personal examples of when they needed feminism in their lives and the discussion continued. The program’s goals were to educate rather to change opinions but I think that for some people, including me, it did both.
Racism in the US (Isaiah, New York)
Peru (Rodrigo & Renzo, Peru)
US Politics (Kion, New York)
Model UN (Ali, Egypt & Phil, New York & Can, Turkey)
Barbados (Kyle, Barbados)
Opioid Crisis (Mikolaj, Poland)
Soccer (Johan, Sweden)
Bugs (Yu, Japan)
Jazz Music (Lazlo, Colorado)
Going Home (2YCs and counselors)