There were many moments during the summer that are important to reflect on and carry meaning, but the one that sticks out, was the first time we had elder Mary Anne come talk about water with our campers. All the campers were so interested and listened intently as she told them of the importance of keeping water clean, told stories of water walks and explained how to thank the water properly. I found it profound when a few of the campers told us the next time they were down by the water, they would be sure to say Miigwetch Nibi.
Over the course of the summer, I think I’ve personally grown and gained experience but one thing I’m taking away from the summer, that I didn’t understand last year, was realizing how important a good work environment and team is. I’ve worked in different places and with different people but it never clicked that the reason we were able to do what we did over the course of the summer as effectively as we did was because of how well we work together. I think having left for the school year and working in different places allowed me to have the perspective necessary to see that.
When facilitating the campers learning Indigenous knowledge, I think of when we had Zhaawanong come as a guest speaker. He would come in and bring lots of different items and give fire teachings to the youth. I think having things for the youth to interact with, to smell and touch helped ground them into the activity. Whenever we would bring him in for different groups of campers, it was always a hit, and felt like they were learning and taking things away from the experience. When we would continue the fire workshop later in the day, you could see how much they had taken away from the teachings, as they were succeeding in building fire using many different strategies.
I think the most successful example of when we facilitate STEM activities was when we ran the Ozobots lesson with campers. It involves them using the robots to go across a track we have created using instructions which tell a story about animal behaviour. The campers are asked to read the instructions and then code using drawn instructions for the robot to follow. I remember running it at the end of the summer and being able to bring everyone to focus together. Teaching them about coding and how it’s more about giving a series of instructions was very rewarding. All around it was just such an interesting activity and I think it was one of the most popular activities we had.