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Youth campers learn good exercise and life habits at CPN Summer Camp program

As part of the youth Summer Camp program at the CPN Gym, Sara Lawrence of the FireLake Wellness Center has been running a health and wellness program for attendees.

“With this generation, it is always good to have some structured time for exercise,” explained Lawerance. “Some stay inside and play video games, while others don’t live in areas that are safe for them to play outside or have parents who are just too tired after working all day to take them to a park. We’re just trying to increase movement in order to encourage them to be more active.

“We try to camouflage exercise with learning because I don’t like to use either as punishment. In terms of staying active, when kids who see exercise as a punishment become adults, they have an aversion to it. Either a coach used it as a punishment for not hitting the free throws in a basketball game, or they were picked last in gym class. We try to reinforce some positive experiences while they exercise for later in life.”

The summer program is open for ages of 12-18 years old, and each week, along with exercise, a new theme aims to teach youth about the things they will be facing in life as they get older.

“We decided to develop themes based on a community needs survey that we completed with over 150 local youth and parents in 2011,” said BJ Trousdale, Coordinator of the Tribal Youth Program. “Our goal at the P.L.A.C.E. and in the Tribal Youth Program at CPN is to provide youth with quality well-balanced services which address multiple needs of this generation while also connecting them with their traditional Native American culture and community.”

During ‘High School/College Week’, youth learn about the things they’ll have to do to succeed as they progress in their education. Counselors instruct youth on what to expect to prepare for tests like the ACT and SAT, and give them insights on what it takes to succeed in their higher education.

Counselor Taylor Cooper, who will plays Division I basketball, explained her motivation in working the camps. “A lot of the kids want to play sports in college. We’ve just gone through it or are going through it now. So having us here to answer questions helps them.”

During ‘Finance Week’, campers learn how to manage money by balancing a checkbook. ‘Manners Week’ instructs youth on things like cell phone etiquette and the common courtesies of using terms like ‘thank you, ‘Sir’ and ‘Ma ‘am’. The camp’s participants also interact and dine with tribal elders in order to foster a closer bond between two distinct sections of the local community.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the summer program or the tribe’s FireLodge Youth Council, contact either Michael Logan (michael.logan@potawatomi.org) or BJ Trousdale (bjtrousdale@potawatomi.org).