By: Lani Hansen, Senior Reporter
OKMULGEE, Oklahoma– The Mvskoke Language Program’s Summer Language Immersion Camp is back in action after missing last year due to COVID-19.
The Language Immersion Camp first started back in 2007, being held at the Preston district center. Years later it was moved to another location, before the language program started hosting it at the Sequoyah State Park.
“It’s been a successful camp, bringing in about 26 kids,” Language Instructor Phillip Harjo said. “This year we are only taking 20 kids because of the pandemic.”
According to Language Department Manager Judy Montiel, the camp was designed to help instill cultural ways to children in grades 7-12. Some of the criteria for the camp is to be enrolled as a Creek citizen, write a 200-word essay that explains why the language is important and cannot be 18 years old by the date of camp.
“The agenda is built around language classes,” Montiel said. “There are three instructors that attend this week-long meeting, and they have 2-3 hours of language. They have a craft class built into the schedule.”
Every year the language department chooses a theme for the camp, this year it is “Elder Ways.” This will teach the youth how to respect elders and show etiquette of being around elders. Throughout the day there will be language taught, cultural and history shared. In the evenings they bring in a church to show students church settings or ceremonial settings.
“One night we have cultural night, because some of the children have only been to church and have never experienced the cultural side of the Mvskoke people,” Montiel added. “We don’t encourage one way or the other, in other words we do not offer invitations on the church night.”
This year they have invited three elders to spend the day out at the camp with the students. These elders will share stories of their days growing up, and the students will be able to meet them one-on-one.
Because this camp is an overnight stay, the boys and girls will be staying in separate quarters. There will be a nurse from the health department on site doing the normal routine for camps such as head lice check and Covid testing or temperature checks. Health officials will keep any type of medication students are required throughout camp.
There will also be two lighthorse patrolmen on site. The female officer will stay with the girls dorm, and the male officer will stay with the boys dorm. They are there to make sure the kids are safe and are not out after lights out.
“We feed the kids three meals a day,” Montiel said. “With our budget we are also providing them with backpacks, sling packs that will carry their hygiene items, t-shirts, towels, beach towels, portfolios and at the end of camp they get certificates. At the end of the camp we provide a stipend to the parent.”
There is no cost to attend this camp, just apply and meet the requirements.
The deadline to apply for camp is June 4, 2021 at the end of the business day. No exceptions past this due date. Applicants must type the 200-word essay in a word document, no scanning or email. Applications must be hand delivered or mailed to the Mvskoke Language Program at P.O. Box 580, Okmulgee, OK 74447.
The Summer Language Immersion Camp will take place July 6-9, 2021, at Sequoyah State Park in Hulbert, OK.