Fifteen youth from across the Bering Strait made the trek to Nome to begin their journey for Camp Igaliq 2018. The journey wasn’t only a physical one, with the flight to Nome, the 80 miles in a van to Council and the two miles downriver in a boat, but also a personal one. Alongside eight positive role models and mentors, youth at camp had a safe and supportive space to talk about tough issues, learn about the challenging past faced by their parents, grandparents and ancestors, and consider their role in the future of their community’s wellness and the part they play. Of course in the midst of this they forged new positive relationships, enjoyed healthy activities, and shared a lot of laughs.

The campers from Nome, St Michael, Stebbins, Koyuk, Shishmaref, Savoonga, Gambell and Brevig Mission were out of town together for 5 days developing their relationship skills. The teens practiced positive communication and emotional expression with each other. They also discussed what healthy relationships look like and should feel like. They recognized the negative impact of stress in their lives and thought of different ways they could positively cope with their life stressors. A presentation was given on Green Dot, an active bystander training to encourage people to speak out and intervene if they see something that isn’t right. Campers will take these skills back to their home communities to not only positively affect their decisions and interactions, but influence their peers and families as well.

July 21-26 of 2018 marked the ninth year of Camp Igaliq, however this was the first year the camp was held at Bear Creek Fish Camp in Council. Campers stayed active with daily exercise, hiking, swimming and paddle boarding. Cultural activities were also offered to campers to practice and find how they can be interwoven into their daily lives. Beading, harpooning, fishing, NYO warm-ups and talking circles were practiced, along with a special evening of drumming and dancing performed by the Nome St Lawrence Island Dancers.

The fun, laughter and lighthearted conversation often got serious, talking about issues such as suicide, true history and grieving, in the safe circle of camp with the positive support of the mentors. We are looking forward to continuing to work with the youth through leadership opportunities and continued support. We are grateful for the help and support of Katirvik Cultural Center space and staff, Bear Creek Fish Camp space and staff, NSHC Behavioral Health Services for financial support, Nome St Lawrence Island for performing and spending time with youth, Kawerak Dartmouth Interns, NSHC Tribal Healer Program for providing mentor Eva Menedelook, Nome Community Center for supplies, City of Nome for space, and local businesses for accommodating our large group Huskys, Bering Sea Restaurant, Subway, and Milanos.