In the last week of July 2010, Eve’s Fund for Native American Health Initiatives and Girls Leadership Institute put on a day camp for about 20 young Navajo girls at Red Mesa School near the Four Corners.
GLI, an organization based in Berkeley, California, has for ten years awakened thousands of girls to a life of emotional intelligence, positive self-expression, and healthy relationships.
Eve’s parents, Dr. Bob Crowell and Barbara Crowell Roy, Darlene Begay and Echohawk Lefthand joined the GLI leaders and nine counselors to guide campers through an inspiring and memorable week.
At other times, campers and counselors broke out into small groups to sit on the floor for interactive discussion. One such session was led by a California counselor on the topic of family customs. She talked about traditional foods at Christmas. A Navajo girl’s favorite was blue corn mush for a particular ceremony. Another described the elaborate preparations and ceremonies to celebrate a Navajo girl’s puberty. Both counselors and campers spoke about the “amazing” and “fascinating” daily intercultural sessions.
The evening hike on top of Red Mesa was a high point for many of the participants. The glorious Navajoland sunset dazzled the counselors. Then everyone gathered near the Hogan, where Darlene and Bernice, Echo’s mom, prepared mutton shish kabob and fry bread, which was much acclaimed. After the meal, Darlene described some Navajo traditional figures such as Trickster Coyote and Monsterslayer.
What were the results of the day camp? Almost all the campers said they were delighted with the program and would recommend it. During the camp, some Navajo girls changed from reticence to smiling, energetic activity. At least two girls proclaimed they had made new best friends.
Two substantial lessons were learned: Lack of transportation to the school decreased attendance, and rented busses will increase the turn out. Also, further modification of the curriculum to the Navajo tradition may increase attendance.
Leaders, counselors, and campers proclaimed the program a solid success. GLI and Eve’s Fund plan to repeat the event next year, if funding is available.
It was truly a joyful experience for Eve’s parents to participate in this unique Eve’s Fund experience. The happy expressions on the campers’ faces showed that Eve’s Fund is making a difference in the lives of young Navajos.
See you next year in Red Mesa!
Dr. Bob Crowell
Eve’s Fund Founder & President
Barbara Crowell Roy
Eve’s Fund Secretary
PS. Don’t miss the slide show below; it shows how fantastic the camp was!