Earth Connections Camp: Connecting Cultures, Bridging Worlds


IMAGE: Let’s work together to move forward Earth Connections Camp: American Indian Nature Camp at Red Butte Gardens Red Butte Garden in Salt Lake City, Utah and Youth Garden Project in Moab, Utah Earth Connections Camp: Reconnect urban American Indian youth with their natural world and cultural heritage. Greetings all, my name is Chuck Foster. I’m employed with the Utah State Office of Education as the American Indian Education
Specialist. I’d also like to introduce myself in Navajo. … The base of this preparation
for these students is to have these kids fit within the society, which they are part of. I think a lot of these kids often times
they feel left out. And, I think one of the largest areas that we have with this
camp is to instill that they belong in the society and they have a lot of contributions. Their
ancestors had a lot of contributions. And that’s one area. The other part is that when they leave this camp you know
sometimes it’s difficult because they’re going back into a culture. They’re going
back into society where they’re straddling two worlds, two cultures… Two of everything in terms of how they live and hopefully
to have these kids adjust to those lifestyles. I have thought about kids not actually bringing our traditions and keeping it up and alive. Because, technology is “like” going overboard and they’re really relying on that instead of bringing the spiritual part in you. What your elders taught. Cause, soon they’ll be gone and the things you want to know when you’re older are gonna die out too. I think it’s really important to connect back with what our ancestors used to do. And to “like” keep the heritage and the tradition that we used to have and make it live on—so that it doesn’t die out. It’s just something that we grew up with, and what our parents taught us. And it’s what they grew up with too. Just knowing that it’s gonna be passed down and it’s gonna stay for a long time, if we keep it going. The camp is an open invitation to all the students. The open invitation includes their mind body and spirit coming here and leaving that open
in terms of what they can learn. And I think that as they open up their
hearts—mind, body, and soul—we feel that the curriculum we have prepared for them
will instill the identity, will instill their culture…it will instill some of the
academic areas in which they’re pursuing in schools today. It’s a way to keep native
children grounded. Not wrestling with two
cultures and trying to understand an identity of who they are. But recognize
that they can…that they can be parallel. And really even be beneficial. If they take the best of both worlds but always keep their cultural identity—that base of who they are and where they came from.. So have this camp is just a wonderful opportunity for these youth to be able to
come, participate, and learn about their culture
and be able to pick up on what is available as well as future careers
that they could have in managing public land resources.

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