By Karlee Lemus
On August 11, the Kis Kin Ha Ha Ki Win crew started their 6 hour journey to Couchiching First Nation, a Treaty 3 reserve located just outside Fort Frances, Ontario. This was going to be our fourth and last camp for the summer and we couldn’t wait to see the turn out.
On our first day we got up bright and early, set up breakfast and then patiently waited for the kids to show up. Once everyone had arrived we gathered in the pow wow grounds and shared our names, ages and reason for being at the camp. Before we started our day some members from the community made a drumming circle and sang while an elder passed around sage for us to smudge. While Tanjina and Donald prepared our first lab for the day, the kids and I played a game of manhunt and got to know each other a bit better.
We then had an elder from the community, Robert, share a bit of his life with us. He talked about growing up in Couchiching and the impact that the flood had on the community. Before starting any labs tests, we had to get some water samples. We drove to Rainy River and another one of our elder’s homes, Linda, to get water from the river bank by her place. Once we were back we set up our microbiology test, testing for E.coli, which was going to take 18 hours to incubate. We then wrapped up the day and did some team bonding games.
On our second day, we had a similar morning as the day before where there was breakfast, drumming and smudging. We then moved onto the art portion of our camp with ice-dying t-shirts, which the kids really loved. We later took another trip to go get soil samples from an old paper mill site, which we would then bring back to the University of Manitoba to test. At the camp, we began our other labs and did pH testing, along with testing for turbidity, arsenic, lead, and nitrates. While the testing was happening we would ask the kids to guess what some of the terminology meant, while also asking about their interest in science and what they wanted to be when they grew up. A lot of the kids were interested in going into a scientific field, which was really exciting for us to hear! After doing the labs, we had our Elder Florence do another teaching on growing up in Couchiching and how different it was compared to how the youth are growing up now. Then our Elder Linda did a teaching on water and sang us a water song. We then ended our day with painting with watercolours and swimming.
On our last day we summarized and shared our overall results from the labs with the elders and kids. Florence shared another land based teaching with our group and we smudged one last time. We had some kids from the local daycare join us that day which made our group huge! We did one last drive and the kids got to swim in the river. We ended our day with a delicious fish fry and more manhunt and water balloon games with the youth.
Our time in Couchiching went by way too fast, and we couldn’t have had a better time. The elders and youth from the community were so inviting and warm and really helped make our last camp for the summer a success.
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The Camp Couchiching Community Initiatives actively contributes to the wellness of children and youth in our surrounding communities including Ramara and Orillia to provide learning experiences, leadership and support for socially responsible programs including in-school programming, tutoring, pop-up camps, PA day and March Break camps throughout the year.