MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

July 4, 2013

Youth learn science, culture at Camp Cherokee


— TAHLEQUAH — This summer hundreds of Cherokee youth are building and firing rockets, programming robots and sharing traditional Cherokee stories at Camp Cherokee, summer camps that are offered in seven communities, a media release states.

In June, Camp Cherokee finished up its fifth week, the latest in Nowata and Kansas. Despite the heat, students, staff and visitors enjoyed the activities.

“I’m pretty sure I had more fun than the campers,” said Cherokee Nation Tribal Councilor Dick Lay, who visited campers Wednesday in Nowata. “I think it’s great that we have this camp available in many of our Cherokee communities, including places like Nowata, for our kids.”

The Cherokee Nation runs Camp Cherokee every year. The focus of the camp is to educate campers on Cherokee culture and incorporate science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) curriculum.

“It’s a very classroom-type style,” said Head Counselor Earl Gonzales.

“We still do the cultural games and the storytelling to promote the culture, but we also get the kids exposed to different avenues of educational learning with new crafts, new ideas and new areas, and still have fun.”

Some of the activities include building and experimenting with rockets, basketry and painting and learning about Cherokee Nation environmental programs, college resources and more.

“I really like the STEM class,” said Matthew Wofford, 12, of Wagoner. “I’m a science geek, and mostly, we’ve been making rockets and following trajectory, things along those lines.”

Camp Cherokee’s staff gets two weeks off before moving to Heart O’ Hills in Welling July 15, where more than 220 students have already registered.