July 26, 2018
TAHLEQUAH, OKLA. – More than 200 Cherokee students participated in cultural, educational and recreational activities this week as part of the 2018 Camp Cherokee at Camp Heart O’ Hills in Welling.
The annual camp provides an enriching academic experience, including classes in the areas of Art and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) such as trapping turtles and fish for research, building paper rockets and clay pottery sculpting. Cultural and recreational activities included stickball, blowgun classes, volleyball, swimming and more.
“Camp Cherokee is a wonderful opportunity for our Cherokee youth. It not only provides cultural lessons and activities, but also allows hands-on educational experiences in the areas of art and STEM subjects,” Cherokee Nation Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden said. “Allowing these youth to experience subjects of this matter early in life is very important and can spark an interest that lasts a lifetime. I thank the employees and volunteers for taking the time to provide such a well-rounded and enriching camp experience to our youth.”
One hundred and twelve students in eighth through 12th grade attended the residential camp, with 105 first through seventh grade students attending the camp as day campers. The camp is free to all students.
Cherokee Nation’s Johnson O’Malley Program coordinates the annual camp. JOM Program Manager Mark Vance said the camp is equally rewarding for staff and volunteers.
“Camp Cherokee is such a rewarding experience, not only for our campers but our staff and volunteers as well,” Vance said. “To see these Cherokee youth really engage in these activities is really special to watch, and I know it will have a positive impact on their future.”
Second-year residential camper Ella Mounce’s favorite camp activity is setting traps for turtles, fish and other animals in order to study the wildlife before releasing them back to their habitat, but it’s the overall experience of Camp Cherokee that is so special to her.
“Participating in Camp Cherokee means a lot to me, because I can do traditional crafts here. I can do robotics or other activities, and it’s just a really fun experience,” said Mounce, of Stilwell.
Camp Cherokee is hosted every summer at Camp Heart O’ Hills in Welling. Staff also host annual day camps at locations around the 14-county area. This year day camps were held at Briggs, Claremore, Jay, Kansas, Nowata and Vian.