WWU Day Camp for Local Youngsters to Benefit Lakota Sioux

Students at William Woods University are engaged in a service project that helps local children learn about some of the neediest youngsters in the United States—the Lakota Sioux on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 22, local elementary school children can attend the “Kids Hoo Care” day camp on the university campus. Hoo is a play on words, referring to WWU’s mascot, the Owls. It means Helping Others Out.

A Lakota Sioux adult and child stand on the porch of their broken-down mobile home at Pine Ridge Reservation.
A Lakota Sioux adult and child stand on the porch of their broken-down mobile home at Pine Ridge Reservation.

For just $10 per child, they will be able to visit horses in WWU’s equestrian facility, watch a riding demonstration, paint a pony, and sit in a teepee to listen to a storyteller and make a talking stick.

Then they will create an art project, get their faces painted and make a card for a child on an Indian reservation. After that, they will hear from a classroom of children from Red Cloud Indian School via a video made just for the event. They’ll also pack a gift bag to send to those children.

Other activities include beading a bracelet and watching traditional hoop dancing by a Native American dancer.

The camp is being organized by students involved in Project 123 at William Woods. As part of this project, the students give 123 hours of community service. The students also plan and organize a group project that benefits someone else. This year, they selected a project to reach out to the people of Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

For the past four years, William Woods University has sent faculty, staff and students to Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to work with Re-member organization and the people of the Lakota Sioux.  In addition to building relationships, the WWU volunteers have built bunk beds for children, built outhouses, skirted trailers and provided basic goods.

William Woods University’s mini-camp aims to benefit young girls, like this one, at Pine Ridge Reservation.
William Woods University’s mini-camp aims to benefit young girls, like this one, at Pine Ridge Reservation.

“On Pine Ridge, life is difficult,” the Rev. Travis Tamerius, WWU chaplain and director of the Center for Ethics and Global Studies, said.

“Families face extreme poverty and daily hardships. Currently, the unemployment rate is at 80-90 percent and the per capita income is only $4,000 a year. The health crisis is alarming as life expectancy on Pine Ridge is the lowest in the United States and the second lowest in the Western Hemisphere. Only Haiti has a lower rate.”

He added, “On the Rez, the challenges are many but a little bit can go a long way in helping these beautiful people brave the hardships they face.”

For more information or to register a child for the mini-camp, contact Ashley Bauer, project coordinator, at albauer@owls.williamwoods.edu or 636-297-6353.