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SRPMIC Youth Attend 2017 Spring Horse Camp

Participants young and old, learn cultural songs and dances at the horse camp.

Fifty youth from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community participated in the annual Spring Horse Camp hosted by the Salt River Rodeo Committee.

The three-day camp started March 3 and hosted 27 girls and 23 boys from the Community. Some Tohono O’odham Nation members also participated in learning the cowboy way and life skills.

“The goal is to help the children deal with life on a daily basis, including spirituality and how do deal with things,” said Angie Silversmith, one of the camp’s organizers. “In the mornings, the campers were taught how to wake up and do a walk to where the sun comes up and greet the sunrise; then they would pray.”

Facilitator Si Johnson (Tohono O’odham) holds about four different camps each year and brought along youth from group homes in Tucson and from T.O. to participate in the camp.

The first day featured registration and lunch. At the camp there is a circle with a firepit in the middle; the fire is kept going throughout the night and through most of the day. This is the central area where discussions take place, as well as where the campers slept. The children and adults camped out at the horse facility next to the fire, which is kept through the night and through most of the day.

Returning campers and instructors teach participants about riding horses.
Presenters included Steve Saffron, who discussed mental stimulation; David Antone; Stewart Day, who presented dummy roping; and his family members Lisa and Jolee, who discussed living with disabilities.

SRPMIC Council Member David Antone presented on Saturday, demonstrating calf ear tagging, branding and castrating. The campers tended to six calves that morning. Each day, the campers learned how to feed and water the horses.

The youth also learned about horse safety, saddling and horse riding. By Sunday, the older kids and returning campers helped teach the younger youth.

Youth also were taught about how to cope with mental issues, how to recognize their emotions and how to deal with them in a positive way and not to turn to drugs and alcohol as a stimulant or a solution.

Youth learn the safety of horse care at the camp.
Also, during the two evenings of the camp, the campers were taught about going into the sweat lodge, which many participated in.

“I really valued the children for having learned respect for themselves and other people at the camp,” said Silversmith. “Because a lot of youth are not taught that, and at the end of the camp the kids showed respect.”

The camp has been going on since 2006; every year, 35 to 45 children attend. Families and parents are welcome to attend the camp and support their children. They are welcome to sit in the circle with their child and also take in what is being taught at the camp. Volunteers are also welcome to attend.

A fall camp is planned for either September or October.

Participants of the Spring Horse Camp take time to do a group picture by the fire where they camped at.
Photo courtesy Angie Silversmith