Spring Service Learning Camp
Partners :Wukchumni Yokuts, Visalia Friends Meeting, Gathering of Native Americans, and Alternatives to Violence Prevention
Project Location :Quaker Oaks Farm and Sequoia National Park
Spring camp is fun and challenging time to look at our place in history and think about how we can heal ourselves and the world. The loving community we create together supports us as we explore new ways of being together: young and older, from different socio-economic classes, cultures, ethnic groups, and religions, all working together to find a new way forward that respects all creation and the land we share.
What started in 2013 as a Quaker led Service camp has evolved and grown over the past four years into intercultural, intergenerational work toward restorative justice. Our developing relationships with this ancestral Wukchumni Yokuts land now held in trust by Visalia Friends Meeting and managed by Quaker Oaks Farm nonprofit is the crucible for community, learning and healing.
In 2013 Spring Camp consisted of 12 youth – 5 local Wukchumni, 3 Mixtec (from the Mixtec Garden project on the farm), and 4 Quakers. A dozen Quaker adults facilitated what we thought would be a traditional service camp. We were graciously invited to participate in the traditional Wukchumni Spring Ceremonies, including rebuilding the sweat lodge. In 2015 we planned a camp that included camping at the farm, activities on the land and a field trip to tie together what we were learning with the wider context of history in California. Shared leadership was central to our vision.
We partnered with Native American leaders using the Gathering of Native Americans (GONA) curriculum. What emerged was a wonderful coming together of different cultures and communities and a realization that Spring Camp could be a powerful opportunity to bring together the local indigenous community of Wukchumni Yokuts and other groups to grow community and understanding together.
2017 was our largest and most exciting year yet! Thirty five youth and fourteen adults participated. More than half of the youth participants are Native American, and leadership is fully shared between Native and non-native community. Nineteen youth were returning from the previous year. The returning campers help to establish the culture of acceptance and respect that permeates the camp.