By ROB W. ANDERSON
While schools are out for spring break, some students are maximizing their free time by combining fun with education.
For seven years, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokees has hosted a Spring Break Culture Camp to bring children together for fun and games, while allowing them to experience culture and tradition.
The free camp, which is open to the general public for students in kindergarten through ninth grade, will be held every day this week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the UKB Wellness Center on the grounds of UKB Tribal Complex, 2450 S. Muskogee Ave.
Camp participants are learning about the Keetoowah Cherokee language, storytelling and song leading, and get the opportunity to participate in stickball games, a scavenger hunt and a stompdance.
But they’ll do more than delve into traditional games. They’ll also get a chance to make the objects used to bring those games alive.
The students will also make stickball sticks, baskets, cornhusk dolls, blowguns, shell shakers and tear dresses, said UKB John Hair Cultural Center and Museum Director of Culture Wesley Kingfisher.
“This year, I think our highlight will be the zoo safari, which will be coming in from Locust Grove. They’ll be [here today],” Kingfisher said Monday. “We always look forward to the camp. This has been our biggest bunch so far on a Monday. We’ve have a little over 100 kids here today. Normally, we peak that on Wednesday.”
Kingfisher said many of the parents were concerned about CDIB cards and whether the children are members of the Keetoowah Band or the Cherokee Nation. In fact, the kids don’t even have to be tribal members.
“We don’t really worry about that, as long as the kids will pay attention. As long as the kids will come and show respect, the more the merrier. We’re open to everyone,” Kingfisher said.
Another activity planned for the camp is a recycle presentation by the UKB Natural Resources Department, while the UKB Lighthorse Tribal Police will talk to the camp participants about safety and “stranger danger.”
Heritage Elementary School fourth-grader Jade Kinzer wove his first traditional double-wall basket Monday.
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