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Summer Is Coming! Here are 7 Types of Programs to Consider for Kids

Looking to send your child to a Native American-focused summer camp this year? Here are 7 types of camps, and some options to consider.

Even though temperatures remain wintery in many parts of the country, summer is fast approaching, and so are deadlines for applying to summer camp. We’ve put together a list of examples of summer opportunities for kids to give parents an idea of what kinds of programs are available.

Traditional Knowledge

Native American Environmental Youth Camp

Run by Diné College Land Grant Office, this camp is focused on educating Native American youth, ages 9-15, about the dynamics of the land and water through hands-on experiences. The camp operates from July 12-17 at Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona. Registration fee is $30; application deadline is June 1; first come-first served. More information: Benita at 928-724-6940; or Amy at 928-724-6941;

Indian Youth of America

Indian Youth of America Youth Camp Program
This nonprofit offers summer camps in Arizona and South Dakota for children ages 10-14. Cultural, educational and recreational activities, field trips, healthy living and nutrition, building leadership and teamwork skills, creative writing, bullying, self-image development, storytelling, traditional games. Whispering Pines Camp runs June 17-26; application and fee due June 1. Camp Bob Marshall runs August 3-10; application and fee due July 17. Phone 712-252-3230.


Pathkeepers for Indigenous Knowledge Native Youth Leadership Camp

This summer camp for American Indian youth ages 11-16 will be in session from July 18-26 at a horse farm in Culpepper, Virginia, about 70 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. The Camp “will provide Native youth with opportunities to experience traditional and cultural activities, identify healthy and sustainable food and life choices, and understand how environmental and conservation sciences are reflected in our Native cultural knowledge and in our traditional uses of environmental resources.

The camp includes a field trip to Washington, D.C. to tour and meet with federal agencies, Congressional staff, and White House officials related to Indian Affairs.” The camp is free; there is an application fee of $10. Applications due May 1.

Lucinda Long-Webb

Pathkeepers campers participate in Native horsemanship and other cultural, educational and leadership activities.

Potawatomi Leadership Program

A six-week program in Shawnee, Oklahoma, for 8 to 10 Citizen Potawatomi tribal members, ages 18-20, from around the country. The program runs from June 19-August 1. Applications due May 1. Participants must have a GPA of 3.0 or better and have completed no more than one year of college. A stipend is provided. Information: Dennette Summerlin, 800-880-9880, ext. 1103.

Photo by Bo Apitz, Citizen Potawatomi Nation

Potawatomi Leadership participants learn the game of stickball and play against other tribes during the six-week program.

Photo by Bo Apitz, Citizen Potawatomi Nation

The 2014 Potawatomi Leadership Class near tribal headquarters in Shawnee, Oklahoma. From left: Moniece Venegas, Jacki Nadeau, Kristi Melot, Lydia Davison, Brook Nakvinda, Nicholas Smith, Parker Lewis, Isaac Morris and Adam Basappa.


University of Arizona Native American Research and Training Center Summer Medical Wellness Camp

The Wellness Camp has been operating since 1991 and focuses on education and physical activity that can be easily incorporated into daily life. The camp is for children 10-15 with or at risk for Type 2 diabetes. This camp, which takes place at Whispering Pines, near Prescott, Arizona, is operated in conjunction with a group of tribal communities. For more information, tribes may call Francine C. Gachupin, Jemez Pueblo, director of the ongoing residential wellness camp, at 520-621-5072;

Native Youth Preventing Diabetes (NYPD) Camp

For children ages 8-12 enrolled in a sponsoring tribe, this camp is a diabetes prevention education program designed to provide Native American children the necessary information and encouragement to prevent obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes later in life. The camp this year runs from June 8-12. Go to the website for contact information for sponsoring tribes, who are accepting applications now, or contact Michelle Dennison, Camp Director, 405-948-4900, ext. 660;

Photo courtesy of NYPD Camp

The 5-day/4-night Native Youth Preventing Diabetes NYPD) Camp provides education in diabetes prevention, nutrition, healthy behavior, tobacco misuse and dental care.

Photo courtesy of NYPD Camp

Group of kids at the Native Youth Preventing Diabetes Camp.


NativeVision Annual Summer Camp

The Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health NativeVision annual summer camp is scheduled for June 11-13 in Shiprock, New Mexico. Six different sports clinics are offered: basketball, football, soccer, cross country, lacrosse and volleyball. “The professional athletes who conduct the NativeVision sports clinics intersperse their athletic teachings with breakout sessions that promote empowerment, discipline, teamwork and the pursuit of education. Members of the sponsoring tribe will plan events and feasts to be held at the camp that will promote cultural pride and traditional strengths for the youth who attend.” For more information about how to register your child for the NativeVision camp or to volunteer for camp activities, contact Marlena Hammen 443-287-5167 or visit the website.

Ed Cunicelli

Group picture of 2014 NativeVision camp in Shiprock, New Mexico with 600 campers and 60 professional and colligate coaches.

Ed Cunicelli

NativeVision running coaches having a little fun racing each other.

College Prep

American Indian Summer Institute in Earth System Science

The American Indian Summer Institute in Earth System Science (AISIESS) is a free two-week residential summer program for Native high school students currently in grades 8-11. Participants conduct field research and camp out on the La Jolla Indian Reservation. It is held June 21-July 3; applications due April 30. For information contact: Dana Link-Herrera:, 949-824-8794 or 949-560-0204 (direct); Kathleen Johnson:, 949-824-6174.

Kathleen Johnson

AISIESS students examine tide pools and learn about coastal geology at Dana Point, California.

Melissa Lewis

AISIESS students participate in an “Advanced floating laboratory” field trip with The Ocean Institute at Dana Point, California.


Nez Perce Culture Camp

The Nez Perce Culture Camp runs from Aug. 4-6 at Walllowa Lake Camp in Joseph, Oregon. Open to Nez Perce youth who have completed grades 8-12. “Youth will learn language, history, legends, customs, leadership, health, wellness and will get to do crafts, drumming, dancing, storytelling, swimming, hiking, playing basketball and volleyball and other games.” Free. Contact Joyce McFarland: or 208-621-4610.

Chickasaw Nation

The Chickasaw Nation offers youth camps and clinics in cultural enrichment, arts, science, sports and law for tribal members. For information contact 580-272-5716.

Paiute Camp Kwyiamuntsi

Every summer in late July/early August, Paiute middle school students attend four days of fun and learning on Paiute traditional homelands in southern Utah. Elders and agency instructors team up to teach range, wildlife, astronomy, archaeology, and hydrology. Other activities include traditional games, learning the Paiute language, hiking, canoeing, and mountain biking. For more information, contact Elizabeth Burghard; 435-865-3006;

Rachel Tueller

BLM Biologist Lisa Church teaches campers about wildlife biology.

Urban Day Camps

Philips Brooks House Native American Youth Enrichment Program

Philips Brooks House (Harvard University) Native American Youth Enrichment program serves Native American children of all tribal ancestries across the Boston area. As a camp, NAYEP aims to provide culturally appropriate summer activities for the Native American youth of Greater Boston while unifying the community and presenting youth with safe, productive, and enjoyable summer programming that affirms Native and multicultural identities; seven weeks, ages 6-13. Contact

This list is for informational purposes only. Inclusion on the list does not constitute a recommendation of the program by ICTMN.