Good afternoon from deep in the heart of Texas!

With orientation for new staff and all staff just around the corner, I have taken a few days to make a quick visit to my mother in the San Antonio area and enjoy some vacation time.  Seems hard to believe summer is going by so quickly!

Though I am away from campus, I wanted to take a moment to express some pride in the people who are part of St. Joseph’s Team.

Brock, one of St. Joseph’s fifth grade teachers, was honored for his dedication to community baseball.

Brock, one of St. Joseph’s fifth grade teachers, was honored for his dedication to community baseball.

Brock, one of our fifth grade teachers, was honored with the Distinguished Professional Achievement Award for his years of service to the Chamberlain baseball program!

He started as a volunteer in 2001 with the Chamberlain High School baseball program. He stepped down last year after spending the last six seasons as head coach. He also served as head coach of the Chamberlain Legion baseball team from 2002-2013.

In addition to coaching, Brock has been groundskeeper at the field trying to encourage others to enjoy this summer sport.  He still is active in the baseball program in the area by serving on the Chamberlain Baseball Association Board.

We are proud to have Brock as part of our St. Joseph’s Indian School team!

 

Deacon Bud and Frances are active at St. Joseph’s and in the community.

Deacon Bud and Frances have dedicated their lives to serving the Native American people.

Deacon Alfred “Bud” Jetty and his wife, Frances, are also a vital part of St. Joseph’s Indian School, the local community and the Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Deacon Bud serves at St. James Catholic Church in Chamberlain and frequently helps with our Sunday liturgy. He is a positive example to the Lakota students and is also on St. Joseph’s Board of Directors.

Bud and Frances were named Native American Liaisons by Bishop Paul Dudley in 1991. Bud and Frances were both featured in the July 2014 issue of The Bishop’s Bulletin.

Deacon Bud was selected to be State Deputy for the Knights of Columbus (KOC) in 1991 and thus far has been the only Native American to hold the top post in the state.  One of his programs was the establishment of a KOC student exchange program giving both Native and other students the chance to experience other worlds.  More than 50 such exchanges took place in the first three years and still continue today.

Bud and Frances both take great pride in the canonization of St. Kateri Tekakwitha – the first Native American Saint. Deacon Bud was a representative of the Diocese of Sioux Falls at her canonization ceremony in Rome.  Frances and Bud are looking forward to attending the annual National Tekakwitha Conference in Fargo, North Dakota in August.

Congratulations to Bud and Frances! We are honored to have their support and involvement with St. Joseph’s Indian School. We pray their ongoing example of service and dedication is a reminder that each of us is gifted in a variety of ways and are indeed all related and called on to be present to one another as we fulfill Jesus’ command, “love one another, as I have loved you.”

I hope everyone continues to have a safe and enjoyable summer! I look forward to getting back to campus and welcoming new staff to St. Joseph’s Team.

Your prayers are appreciated that orientation go smoothly so staff will be ready to welcome the students as they return for the opening of school on August 11, 2014.

Sincerely,

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ

Chaplain

Hello my name is Julie and I’m the Manager of our Personal Care Center. As a Personal Care Specialist I have the privilege of working with our awesome donors, answering any questions they might have about the school or our Native American students, and also just getting to know them a little more which is the best part!

Julie, Personal Care Center Manager

Julie, Personal Care Center Manager

We currently have six people working at the Personal Care Center and they are the best group of people to work with. I love hearing all the conversations everyone is having over the phone with our donors – you can tell we all love what we do!

We always laugh a little when we get into a “thank you war” – when we thank the donor and then the donor thanks us but then we thank the donor…well you get the point.

I guess you could say both the donor and we here at the Personal Care Center are very grateful for what we are able to do for the Lakota boys and girls!

I am actually pretty new to St. Joseph’s and to the Chamberlain area. I moved to South Dakota with my husband and two daughters in January of this year from San Diego, California and started at St. Joseph’s not long after our move.

My husband grew up in Chamberlain, so I had visited a couple times before we moved. However, I was shocked to see this amazing school in such a small town! Having lived here for 6 months now, I couldn’t imagine a better place for our students to be and receive a great education.

Although working as a Personal Care Specialist keeps me pretty busy, I love being able to participate in activities with our students and learn about Native American culture.

My favorite memories so far would be helping out at the gymnastics performance, attending eighth grade graduation, Senior Prayer service, attending the staff Inipi (a traditional Lakota (Sioux) purification/prayer ceremony), and visiting the seventh grade Native American Studies class.

In addition to her regular job, Julie participates in lots of activities with the Lakota boys and girls.

Julie, formerly a gymnast herself, helped with St. Joseph’s gymnastics camp!

I also had the opportunity to have dinner in one of the homes where the students live during the school year. It was so nice to see how well-mannered and polite they were when I visited with them. We had a nice healthy meal made by one of the houseparents and one of the students gave me a tour of their home. She was really excited to show me her Hello Kitty bedspread and decorations in her room!

Being in the home that night made me think of how important our houseparents are and just how loving they are to the students. A thought came to me later about what a great houseparent my mom would be.

And wouldn’t you know – my mom will be moving from San Diego to be a houseparent starting next month!

It’s funny sometimes how things work out.

I feel blessed to be at St. Joseph’s Indian School doing what I’m doing, surrounded by great people, great kids and all the great work we do here.

 

Thank you for your generosity!

Julie, Personal Care Center Manager

Greetings to you!

Yesterday was the Feast Day of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, the Lilly of the

Fr. Anthony is St. Joseph’s Chaplain

Fr. Anthony with the Lakota children

Mohawks.  She is the first Native American to be canonized and holds a special place in the heart of the Native American people.  I’ve had the privilege of visiting the village where Kateri grew up in in New York State.

One of the stained glass windows in Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel on St. Joseph’s campus is dedicated to Kateri.  We ask for her intercession that the Great Spirit will give His blessings and strength to all who seek to follow her dedication and commitment to follow Jesus.

On behalf of all the SCJs, I thank you for your prayers for the success of the recent Provincial Chapter held last week in Hales Corners, Wisconsin. I had the chance to join with Fr. Steve Huffstetter, SCJ and 42 other priests and brothers to discuss various issues to help the members of the Province be supportive of one another and renewed in our dedication to serving the people of God as ‘prophets of love and servants of reconciliation.’

Thanks to your prayers, the Spirit helped move the Chapter in a very positive direction.

We also got to do some celebrating.

Fr. Leonard Tadyszak, SCJ, celebrated the 70th anniversary of his vows. Among Father’s various ministries was his time serving in north-central South Dakota on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation.

The next day, we celebrated Br. Clay Diaz, SCJ, and his Final Profession of Vows.  As part of his training, Br. Clay served at St. Joseph’s Indian School.  His next assignment will take him to northern Mississippi.

On a sad note, we received word that Fr. Larry Rucker, SCJ passed away.  Fr. Larry had served in South Dakota and many in this area still remember him. Please keep Fr. Larry in prayer.

As we continue moving through the summer, various rodeos and powwows will take place throughout central South Dakota. The powwows at Lower Brule and Fort Thompson will take place in early August. I hope to see you at St. Joseph’s annual powwow on September 13.

Remember, you are always welcome to stop in and visit St. Joseph’s Indian School and see the good you are doing for the Lakota children!

May God continue to bless you and keep you in good health. Know we are praying for you, in gratitude for your generosity.  Pilamaya thank you!

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ

Chaplain

Greetings from the banks of the Missouri River – a busy spot over the 4th of July weekend. We had boats of all descriptions sailing up and down the river. Even a sleek sail boat went gliding by.

The Chamberlain-Oacoma community kicked off Independence Day celebrations with a parade down Main Street followed by a rodeo, car show and a boat regatta, all before a fireworks show lit up the night sky.

South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson visited the Lakota students at St. Joseph’s Indian School.

The Lakota children had lots of questions for Senator Johnson.

Saturday morning saw the Race on the River – a 5 or 10k fun run – which began at St. Joseph’s Rec Center.  Younger children also had the chance to take part in an obstacle course.  The day ended with stock tank races in the marina with 4-person teams.

The highlight of last week was United States Senator Tim Johnson’s visit to St. Joseph’s.  He met with younger students in the summer home and they told him about all the fun activities they are doing this summer. High school students met Senator Johnson at the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center, where they visited about St. Joseph’s high school program and their plans for the future.

Senator Johnson has given 36 years of service as a State Legislator, member of the United States House of Representatives and three terms as Senator.  As he retires, he shared that he is looking forward to spending time with his children and grandchildren.  We thank Senator Johnson for his years of service and concern for Native American issues. We are grateful he made St. Joseph’s Indian School a part of his farewell tour around the State of South Dakota.

The first spade of dirt has been turned on the playground project. The Lakota students use the playground during recess, after school and every other chance they get! The current slides, swings and basketball courts are showing their age and safety regulations make it necessary to replace them.

On the first day of school (August 11!) there will be new swings, basketball hoops and more for the kids who call St. Joseph’s their home-away-from-home! Their shouts of joy and smiling faces will be their thanks for your generosity.

I have a special prayer request.  Members of the United States Province of the Priests of the Sacred Heart will be gathering at our headquarters in Hales Corners, Wisconsin this week for a Province Assembly.

These are held every three years and this one is extra special. It will help us prepare for the General Assembly next year in Rome when all the Provinces of the Congregation send representatives to discuss the future direction we’ll take as well as elect a new Superior General. Will you keep us in your prayers? We ask that the Holy Spirit guide us in

the right direction.

Pilamaya thank you – for your generous support for the education and care of the Lakota boys and girls at St. Joseph’s Indian School.  I hope you will have the chance one day to stop in and visit. If you are planning a trip, visit www.stjo.org/visit for helpful information!

Have a blessed week.

Sincerely,

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ

Chaplain

The Lakota children will have a new playground in time for the start of the new school year at St. Joseph’s.

St. Joseph’s playground equipment is being replaced to ensure the Lakota children have a safe place to play. Stay tuned for updates!

Hello and Happy Summer!

Julie is a counselor for the Lakota boys and girls at St. Joseph's.

Julie, Family Service Counselor

Hopefully the summer is treating you all well and you are enjoying some sunshine and nice weather! Here at St. Joseph’s Indian School, summer continues to be a busy time. As a Family Service Counselor, I travel to various parts of South Dakota, North Dakota and Nebraska to visit the students and families we work with. It is a great experience being able to travel and see our students and their families.

Summer is also time for admissions work. Every student who comes to St. Joseph’s Indian School goes through an admissions process. The process begins when a parent or guardian submits an application for their child.

Once an application is received, a file is started for the student and the admissions staff begin to gather data for the child. Some of the things we gather for the file are medical records, school records, immunizations, birth certificates and medical insurance information.

Once a file is started, the family will be contacted to set up a time to meet with a staff person for an interview with both the student and the parent or guardian. During this part of the process, we gather information about family life, family expectations, medical needs, behavioral needs, school needs, and psychological needs. This is called the social history.

There are also a few questions for the student to answer:

  • What is your favorite food?

    St. Joseph’s counselors travel to South Dakota Indian Reservations all summer, doing home visits for current students and interviews for new students.

    St. Joseph’s counselors cross the wide open spaces of South Dakota to visit the Lakota students in their homes each summer.

  • How do you like school?
  • Do you want to come to St. Joseph’s?
  • How do you express your feelings?

Once the interviews are completed, staff working on the file will call the child’s previous teacher to ask a few questions. When all the information is gathered and the social history is complete, the student’s file is presented to the admissions board for review.

The admissions board consists of the Residential Director, Residential Coordinators, Family Service Counselors, Principal, Student Coordinator, Special Education Director, and the Pastoral Care Director. The file is reviewed and the board decides if a student can be accepted to St. Joseph’s Indian School.

While we strive to serve the needs of the children who apply, not every student can be accepted.

Why would a student NOT be accepted to St. Joseph’s? That is a good question.

There are several reasons, the first and most frequent reason is that there is no room in a certain grade for the student.

Another common reason is that the student has medical or educational needs we cannot meet.

Students may also not be accepted because they have behavioral or emotional needs that require constant supervision. While students are very carefully supervised at St. Joseph’s, some students need more supervision than we can provide. The safety of the children in our care is our top priority.

St. Joseph’s admissions process includes both students and families.

The Lakota (Sioux) children who attend St. Joseph’s are enrolled by their parents or guardians.

Additionally, a student may tell the interviewer they do not want to attend St. Joseph’s. If a student – especially an older student – states they do not have an interest in coming to St. Joseph’s, they may not be accepted.   We do our best to give every student who wants to come to our school a chance to do so. Unfortunately, circumstances beyond our control sometimes make that impossible.

School starts already on August 11! We are working hard to fill several openings in our homes for the 2014-2015 school year. For the remainder of July, we will be on the road working on files for admissions, visiting families and students, and meeting new people. It is a great time of year!

Of course, it is BETTER when the kids are here!

We wish you a safe and fun filled summer –

Julie, Family Service Counselor

Dear Benefactors,

What a wonderful weekend at St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Friday, June 27, we celebrated the Feast of the Sacred Heart, which is very special to our religious community. SCJ is Latin for sacerdotes cordis jesu (priests of the heart of Jesus).

We were honored to have St. Joseph’s former President, Fr. Steve Huffstetter, SCJ, back among us for the day.

The members of the Priests of the Sacred Heart who minister here in South Dakota gathered for an adoration period in which we renewed our vows of commitment to the Congregation and the people of God.  It is always a wonderful time to join with fellowSCJs and share somecamaraderie and dinner together.

The Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center now includes an Alumni & Historical Center and a Medicine Wheel Garden.

The Medicine Wheel Garden is nestled between the Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center and the banks of the Missouri River.

Wonderful as it was, we were a little sad too. On Sunday, Fr. Guy Blair, SCJ, said good-bye to the parishes of St. Anthony in Pukwana and St. James in Chamberlain as he moves on to his new assignment.

The SCJ community has helped the Sioux Falls Diocese with local ministry over the last 25-30 years, but the Province was not able to replace Fr. Guy with another SCJ, so the communities gave the parishes back to the Diocese of Sioux Falls. Fr. Steve was here to extend the thanks of the Province for all the support and encouragement the parishes have given to the SCJ priests who have served over the years.

The Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center’s Medicine Wheel Garden was chosen to be on the annual P.E.O (Philanthropic Educational Organization) Yard and Garden Tour this past Thursday.  We were honored to be chosen along with four other homes in the Chamberlain area.

Monday and Tuesday, I was in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, taking part in the Board meeting for Cheyenne River Indian Outreach. The SCJ’s operate a domestic violence shelter and youth residential program on the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. In addition to a safe place, a thrift store also helps provide new or slightly used household items for victims needing to start over.

Tomorrow, we are looking forward to a visit South Dakota’s senior Senator, the Honorable Tim Johnson. The Senator is making a farewell tour of the state as he will not be running for re-election this year after serving three terms in the United States Senate.

The Lakota (Sioux) students participating in our summer program will welcome him and share about St. Joseph’s.  The

Chamberlain residents visited the Medicine Wheel Garden as part of a recent community tour.

The Medicine Wheel Garden was featured in Chamberlain’s recent local garden tour.

Senator has been helpful when our students visited Washington DC and has also taken an active interest in Native American issues during his years of service.  I’ll share with you how the visit went in next week’s blog!

We hope you all have a safe and memorable Independence Day! As you enjoy time with family and friends, remember the values our country stands for and continue to find ways to pass them along to future generations.

Sincerely,

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ

Chaplain

Earlier in June, St. Joseph’s held its first annual Alumni & Staff Reunion!

Mary Jane works with St. Joseph's Alumni.

Mary Jane, St. Joseph’s Alumni Liaison

Both former students and staff enjoyed the day as we visited and renewed friendships. We talked about our time at St. Joseph’s Indian School and shared what we are doing today. It was wonderful to catch up!

Other activities included lunch, campus tours and going through hundreds of old pictures! We had a total of 19 alumni along with some members of their families and 15 staff members, past and present. The day went by fast.

We had students scattered throughout six different decades:

  • Jerry came from Elk River, Minnesota. He remembered weeding the gardens and gathering the crops! He graduated from St. Joseph’s in 1959.
  • Ron came from Eagle Butte, South Dakota and attended St. Joseph’s in 1963-64. He is currently a maintenance mechanic. Ron’s three sons also attended St. Joseph’s in the 1990’s.

The 1970’s:

o   Crystal graduated from St. Joseph’s in 1979. She works in customer service in Mitchell, South Dakota. Crystal visits campus frequently.

 

o   Madeline works with students in the recreation department at Crow Creek Tribal School north of Chamberlain. She returns to campus at least twice a year.

 

o   Rose is from Pierre and works at Walmart. Rose visits campus on a regular basis.

 

o   LeeAnn is from Rapid City. She is self-employed, running her own house cleaning service. She returns every year for St. Joseph’s annual powwow.

 

o   Terri is from Mission, South Dakota and is a self-employed domestic engineer. Terri came with her husband and their son. Terri has been back to St. Joseph’s, but not for over 10 years.

 

o   Stanley attended with his two sisters, Madeline and Janice.

 

The 1980’s:

  • Muffy lives in Stephan, South Dakota, north of Chamberlain. She works in the recreation program at Crow Creek Tribal School. She returns to campus several times during the school year. Muffy graduated from Chamberlain High School through St. Joseph’s High School program.

 

  • Nancy lives in Chamberlain, South Dakota and is the manager at Subway. She comes back to campus for various events and has taken part in our career day program.

 

  • Janice lives in Rapid City, South Dakota and is a full time student. She has received awards through St. Joseph’s scholarship program. She plans to obtain her two year degree this spring and go on to law school.

 

  • Claudia lives in Reliance, South Dakota. She is a youth counselor and also takes online classes. She also receives scholarships through St. Joseph’s program.

 

  • Terry lives in Aberdeen, South Dakota. He works in a warehouse and is a delivery driver. This was his first visit back to St. Joseph’s Indian School after graduating in 1988.

 

The 1990’s:

o   Glenn lives in Chamberlain, South Dakota and is a custodian at St. Joseph’s. His two daughters currently attend St. Joseph’s.

 

o   Destiny is from Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She is a homemaker. She has returned to campus on several occasions to visit with our junior high and high school students. She was part of our high school program.

 

o   L’Jay is from Ridgeview, South Dakota. He works in Eagle Butte as a supply technician.

 

o   Chad is from Dupree, South Dakota. He works as a construction foreman in the Eagle Butte area.

Students from the 2000’s:

 

o   Tyler lives in Chamberlain, South Dakota and works at McDonald’s.

 

o   Katrina lives in Chamberlain, South Dakota and is a full time mother.

 

At the end of the day, everyone expressed how glad they were to have come, vowing to bring other friends and alumni back to campus for the next reunion!

 

Mary Jane, Alumni Liaison

Alumni and staff members gathered for St. Joseph’s first reunion.

St. Joseph’s first annual Alumni & Staff reunion was a great success!

Our trip to France was fantastic!

A few weeks ago, I shared in a blog post that I was headed to France with Erica and Andrew. It was a wonderful trip!

St. Joseph’s staff and Lakota students enjoyed an exchange visit to St. Solange, in Chateauroux France.

Andrew, Maija and Erica had a wonderful trip to France!

Many of the French students thought we would arrive wearing traditional Lakota (Sioux) regalia instead of modern clothes – they were surprised to see us in jeans and

t-shirts!

We shared much about South Dakota and the Lakota culture, and the students and staff asked some great questions. Everyone appreciated the dreamcatchers we brought for them, and they all seemed to enjoy trying on some of the regalia. They were also interested in learning what kinds of modern music and video games our kids like and were surprised to learn of the similarities they shared. The younger students had a great time participating in the Circle Dance, learning Lakota words, and making beaded bracelets.

Our hosts introduced us to France’s Berry Region – a beautiful area with amazing culture, music and food! The town, Chateauroux, was lovely and some areas were quite old, with cobblestone streets and amazing architecture.  Some of the sights we were fortunate to see were the Chambord Castle (designed by DaVinci), Europe’s largest zoo, beautiful smaller castles and gardens, an organic goat cheese farm and – best of all – spending time with our host families and children at St. Solange!

Before we departed, the students at St. Solange presented us with gifts of music, poetry, and art in a wonderful celebration which included the benediction of their chapel. The festivities included traditional regional music and food, a visit from the mayor, reporters and lots of fun! We presented the school headmaster with an ironwood buffalo in thanks for their hospitality and generosity during our stay.

The whole day was truly touching; we were humbled by their kindness.

We had a short visit of Paris, the beautiful “City of Lights,” and we were not disappointed. We took a bus tour of Paris’ most visited areas, and went to the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, Sacre-Coeur (which is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus) at Montmartre. We felt this was an important visit, as St. Joseph’s was founded by the Priests of the Sacred Heart!

After a night in Paris, we took the Chunnel to London in preparation for the trip home.

Before we even left the station in Paris, we saw the Queen! She departed from the same train we were taking to England! It was exciting to see the guards in full dress, the reporters, and the Queen’s car.

Once in London, we met up with the group of St. Joseph’s staff and students who were in Germany, giving presentations as we were, to Gymnasium Leonium, in Handrup.

The students appreciated being in an English speaking country and loved the sights of the city of London, riding the “Eye” and seeing “Stomp!’ at the West End.

We all had a wonderful time learning about another culture and way of life. We are especially looking forward to our hosts coming to South Dakota in October to be our guests at St. Joseph’s Indian School!

Thank you for helping St. Joseph’s provide amazing learning opportunities for the Native American children we serve!

Greetings from a weather-beaten state,

We have had tornadoes, hail and very heavy rain in South Dakota. Wessington Springs, which is about 60 miles northeast of us, was recently hit by a tornado that destroyed

The Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center on St. Joseph’s campus is free and open to the public.

The Akta Lakota Museum & Cultural Center features historical displays and contemporary artwork by Lakota (Sioux) artists.

several houses and businesses. Areas just to our north had some weather activity that knocked down storage silos.

Thankfully, Chamberlain has been spared the very dangerous storms. Our prayers are with those who have not been so fortunate.

Already this summer, we have had lots of visitors at the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center browsing the museum, historical center a gift shop. It’s a pleasure to visit with them – some have been contributing to St. Joseph’s for many years and for some it is their first visit.

Those who have been here before are amazed at the changes that have taken place on campus, including now complete home renovations and the addition of the Tokéya uŋkí nájiŋpi (We Stood Here in the Beginning) Historical & Alumni Center.

All these projects, as well as the programs and necessities we provide for the Lakota children, are accomplished through your generosity. We’re so grateful!

If you are coming through South Dakota this summer, please stop in! If you are traveling later in the summer, be sure to attend our annual powwow on September 13.

St. Joseph’s Alumni & Historical Center features historical displays and special features for alumni.

The Alumni & Historical Center was recently added to the Akta Lakota Museum.

Other than visitors, the campus has gone a bit silent as Rising Eagle Day Camp has come to an end. All together, 984 Native American children took part in the four-week program, all from the Crow Creek and Lower Brule Indian Reservations.

Pilamayathank you – for your support! You helped provide the resources needed to meet the needs of the summer day camp program and made these smiles possible!

With fewer children on campus, St. Joseph’s maintenance crews are making needed repairs in homes and classrooms.  New windows are being installed in the Benedictine Homes where our youngest students (grades 1-3) reside.

There is never a dull moment!

We hope you and yours will have a wonderful week and that God’s blessings may continue to be with you always.

Fr. Anthony Kluckman, SCJ

Chaplain

My name is Connor and I am completing an internship at St. Joseph’s Indian School as part of the University of Notre Dame’s Summer Service Learning Program (SSLP), which is run

The boys in the summer home liked spending time with Connor during his internship.

Connor and boys in the summer home climbed Harney Peak.

by the Center for Social Concerns. I am a rising sophomore from the Washington, DC, area and I picked St. Joseph’s from over 200 SSLP sites all across the country. I started working here at the end of May and am now completing my fourth and final week at St. Joseph’s.

Next, I will complete the 8-week SSLP program by spending the remaining four weeks working at the St. Francis House in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

While I have been here, the majority of my time has been spent as a camp counselor for Rising Eagle Day Camp.

The campers are broken up into an older group for ages 10-14 and a younger group for kids 9 and under with the two groups alternating which activities they do during the day. Each day after arriving on campus and eating breakfast, the older kids head off to Lakota Studies with Jeshua and LaRayne, while the younger group has outdoor recreation time led by Mark. Afterwards, they switch activities, which are then followed by lunch in the school’s dining hall.

In Lakota Studies, the kids learn about their cultural heritage by listening to stories, singing traditional songs, and playing the drum. The kids also make their very own, personal drums and carve pipes out of soap bars, among other arts and crafts activities. During their rec time, the kids do anything ranging from playing softball outdoors to playing thunder ball in the gym to learning about water safety with the Army Corps of Engineers down at the river.

Connor spent time with day camp kids, decorating t-shirts, playing games and swimming.

Day camp students decorated shirts with puffy paint during arts & crafts.

After lunch, the older group has arts and crafts with Melissa and the younger kids have swim time in the rec center pool. Again, the two groups switch activities after a while. In arts and crafts, the kids wove God’s Eyes out of yarn, designed camp t-shirts with puffy paint, and built key chains by melting down plastic beads. Following a snack after this full day of activities, it is time for the kids to head back home until camp starts back up again the next day.

In addition to helping out at the summer camp, I have gone with Sherry and Chelsea, two of St. Joseph’s Family Service Counselors, on home to see students back home in their reservation communities for the summer.

I spent a day traveling on the bookmobile to provide books to Native American kids who can’t get to a library during the summer – they would not be able to read a new book until returning to school in the fall.

In addition to these travels, I have also spent a good amount of time with the summer home kids who stay at St. Joseph’s over break. Mostly, I have just been hanging out with them, getting to know them better through games of basketball and swimming. I also accompanied the summer home kids on weekend trips to the Black Hills, where we hiked Harney Peak and explored Wind Cave, and Sioux Falls where we went go-carting and played laser tag.

So far, I have had a great experience out here in South Dakota. I would like to thank St. Joseph’s for welcoming me so warmly into their school community this past month. I will miss St. Joe’s very much when I have to leave, but this school and the time I spent here will always have a special place in my memory. I am grateful for this amazing opportunity and I wish all those at St. Joseph’s the best.

See what the Lakota children thought of Rising Eagle Day Camp – watch the video now! http://bit.ly/1pMJ5zI

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