Science and culture come together at Selawik camp

Source: Arctic Sounder

SELAWIK - From a distance, a stampede of 40 11-year-olds all clad in yellow or red life jackets scurrying down the bank to waiting river boats on the Selawik River might look a little chaotic. But for those involved, they know it's all part of the annual Selawik Science-Culture Camp.

Last week and the week prior, students from kindergarten to 12th grade each spent a couple of days at the camp, located about 15 minutes northeast of the village. Members of the community, including teachers, Elders and biologists from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service also made the brisk commute each morning. Between 40 and 70 kids, and up to 20 adults attended the camp each day for two weeks.

This year marked the 11th year for the camp. The kids took part in a variety of traditional activities from skinning and butchering big game, to checking nets and preparing fish, to berry picking, plant identification, checking permafrost levels, and scooping out plant and animal life from the river. And the only clock or schedule they went by while at camp was nature.

"When the kids are out here doing, they learn more than from either computer or textbooks because they're learning hands-on," said Norma Ballot, the bilingual teacher at the Davis-Ramoth Selawik School. "They become aware that our environment is changing quicker than we actually think it is."

While volunteers worked away inside one of the tents preparing meals of moose stew and fresh whitefish, students were outside taking photos, scaling fish or listening to Elders.

Read more