The Haliwa-Saponi Indian Tribe opened a Boys & Girls Club with grand opening celebrations for their summer camp on June 10-11, marking the beginning of a summer of activities and learning opportunities for children and youth.
The organization, known as the Boys & Girls Club of the Haliwa-Saponi of Indian Country, will meet at the tribe’s multipurpose building located at 228 Capps Farm Rd., Hollister.
dr B. Ogletree Richardson, Chief of the Haliwa-Saponi, spoke of the community’s excitement about the opportunities that the Boys & Girls Club will provide not just during the summer months but throughout the year.
“It is truly an exciting moment in the history of the Haliwa-Saponi Tribe to open their first Boys & Girls Club,” she said. “This program offers our youth, ages 5-17, a unique opportunity to participate in projects and activities throughout the year.”
Summer camp activities began on June 13 and it didn’t take long for 20 participants to register. The day camp runs until August 15th and registration is still open. The $260 summer camp fee covers Boys & Girls Club membership for the year, meals and field trips. Parents bring and fetch their children every day.
Club executive director Dorothy Richardson said the camp is open from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. to accommodate working parents. Participants start their days with recreational activities such as volleyball, badminton, kickball, hand lacrosse and more.
“They really enjoy it,” Richardson said.
The summer camp also includes mentoring, tutoring, cultural classes, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), Aboriginal history, crafts and other activities.
For Richardson and club director Cheyenne Daniel, it is particularly important to teach children and young people aspects of their culture that they may not be familiar with.
Daniel teaches the basics of the native language, Tutelo in this case, traditions, beadwork and other aspects of Haliwa-Saponi culture. Participants focus on a different theme each week and enjoy activities such as learning traditional dances and making native clothing or regalia.
Excursions to places such as museums, the zoo and a library are also planned for the summer.
Richardson described the summer camp as an opportunity for participants to discover that learning can be fun and to provide activities that participants can enjoy without having to travel all the way to town.
She has already observed that older campers become role models for younger campers who try to emulate the behavior of the older youth. Richardson has also noted that campers don’t want to leave at the end of the day.
“The older children are very good role models for the little ones,” she said. “I said to the parents, ‘You kids are amazing.’ The kids are never ready to go home.”
Summer camp ends in August but many activities are in the works at the Boys & Girls Club for the upcoming school year.
Richardson again explained that the cost of Summer Camp covers Boys & Girls Club membership for the year. For those who did not participate in the camp activities, membership is $20 for the year.
After school camps include tutoring, mentoring and a range of other activities for children and young people. At this time the Boys & Girls Club is working to develop a schedule and transport arrangements. Richardson hopes that area residents will volunteer to help youngsters, particularly former coaches, who can work with participants who play sports.
Richardson envisions the Boys & Girls Club enabling children and young people to learn about what is outside of their community while maintaining their culture and strong ties to their community. Ultimately, she hopes the Boys & Girls Club can partner with local businesses, colleges and trade schools to help participants explore the opportunities available to them.
For Richardson, the Boys & Girls Club is all about the kids.
“It’s the best we can offer the community,” she said. “We want to create a safe space and build a relationship with the children. We want to bridge the gap between children, parents and schools.”
For more information about the Boys & Girls Club of Haliwa-Saponi in Indian Country, to register for summer camp or to volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org.