Envisioning a Better Education for Our Kids : An Exploration of the Summer Camp Experience
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This SIP brings to light the importance of education outside of traditional Western academia, through the use of summer camps. Since 2016, I have worked as a camp counselor at a camp in Northern Michigan called Camp Al-Gon-Quian (AGQ). This camp sees around 2,000 come through every summer for anytime from 3 days to 3 months. AGQ works to provide a well-balanced experience that will support and encourage each and every camper to step out of their comfort zone to try new experiences and make new friends. While working here, I have come to realize how important this experience is to kids, they have the opportunity to make choices removed from their parents, learn to live in a shared space, as well as learning how to make decisions that benefit the entire community rather than just themself. By providing this opportunity, we teach kids at a young age the importance of learning outside of Western academia, and how much more there is that is just as important to learn. I work in this SIP to educate people who are not aware of why summer camps are important and essential to a child's development, as well as how we can make them more sustainable and accessible to a wider variety of kids. Throughout this paper, I base my methodologies on the works of Indigenous people and the work that they have been doing for thousands of years. I talk about what it looks like to decolonize our idea of education and what it means to productively learn, as well as how we can better understand the Earth that we are so lucky to be living on. It should also be made clear that in no way am I trying to claim Indigenous knowledge as my own, but rather grapple with the knowledge shared by Indigenous peoples as the groundwork for my paper.