Grade 5 and 6 students took some of their first steps on the path to leadership at a weekend camp May 17 to 21 in Waswanipi.
Twenty-nine students from Waskaganish, Nemaska, Mistissini, and Waswanipi were chosen for their role in leadership at their respective schools, and their participation in student council and school-based Youth Fusion activities.
"We heard expressions of 'I love you' all throughout the camp."
"The youth really bonded with each other and the co-animators," said Youth Fusion's Assistant Director of Educational Programming Laura Turmel. "We heard expressions of 'I love you' all throughout the camp. Before the opening ceremony, a youth from Mistissini broke out into song and the entire group followed suit, creating an impromptu group sing-a-long like something out of a musical."
Elder Irene Otter facilitated an opening and closing ceremony and spent most of the weekend with the youth. The students were divided into "family" groups based on their community peers where they learned and practiced skills of team-building and leadership.
The students worked together in their teams to set rules and get to know one another better. Ligue Nationale d'Improvisation offered specific workshops in a play format to foster best practices around expression and public speaking.
One memorable activity was a scavenger hunt led by Youth Fusion's Waswanipi Animator Daagoden Blacksmith (a Cree School Board graduate). It was designed to test the cooperation and problem-solving skills of the students within their groups. Another team challenge (facilitated by a Secondary 1 student who previously participated in the Leadership Camp) involved getting all the members of the family group through a web of ropes. Points were awarded for working together and not using the same hole twice.
Other challenges included learning - and performing - a dance choreography, building a fire, cooking a hotdog, and preparing a smoothie, where points were awarded for cooperation, presentation, and taste (the process, the presentation, and the final product).
Finally, students had to use materials found in the recycling bin to protect an egg from a fall from the second floor to the pavement in the Egg Drop Challenge. Each team got 3 eggs.
"During the Team Challenges, we heard constant words of encouragement being exchanged amongst the youth," Turmel added.