Community as Teacher Cultural Camps - FAQs for UBC Students

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What are my roles and responsibilities at camp?

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The main expectation of UBC students at the camp is to learn. This camp is primarily an opportunity for members of the Aboriginal community to teach health professional students about their culture and their needs as potential users of health services. As such, your main role in the camp is as a role model and participant alongside the youth, not as a camp counsellor or leader. The second expectation is that UBC students help. This is not related to any specific tasks; it simply means keeping your eyes open for opportunities to lend a hand. The third expectation is that, when appropriate, UBC students mentor campers who might have questions about pursuing university and the healthcare professions. UBC students may also be asked to teach some kind of mini-workshop at the discretion of the camp coordinators. Because you are health professional students (not practitioners) these workshops cannot contain ‘medical advice’ or topics that fall outside a student’s scope of practice. Student workshops typically consists of a ‘question-and-answer’ style of session for which youth anonymously submit questions beforehand. We will provide you with additional information and support about the workshops if you are selected to participate in the camps.

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Who runs the camps and what is the purpose of the camps?

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UBC does not run the camps; we are simply visitors there. Fraser Valley Aboriginal Children and Family Services Society (under the name Xyolhemeylh) is responsible for the planning and running of the camps each year. The target participants of the camp are on- and off-reserve Aboriginal children, youth, and families. The goal of the camps is to expose Aboriginal youth to the culture and traditions of the Stó:lō Nation and other unique Aboriginal cultures that they might not otherwise experience in their day-to-day life.  

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Four different cultural camps are offered. At the Family Camp, traditional teachings about family and parenting skills are shared with Aboriginal families. Two camps are coming-of-age celebrations held for boys (‘Warriors’) aged 12-19 and girls (‘Natural Changes’) aged 10-16 to teach self-discipline and traditional responsibilities and customs. The Caregiver Camp is an opportunity for Aboriginal children living in foster care to develop an understanding of Aboriginal traditions and culture alongside their foster families.

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Who is in charge at the camps?

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There will be a camp coordinator present at each camp, as well as camp counselors (some are post-secondary students and some are high school students), and local Elders. Family intervention workers might also be present. At the family camps, parents are told that they are responsible for the discipline of their children.

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What should I bring?

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These camps run rain or shine, so appropriate clothing for all weather is needed. In addition, bug repellent and sunscreen; reusable eating utensils (including bowl, plate, water bottle, mug, and utensils); sleeping gear (sleeping bag and a sleeping mat); and camping gear (including a tent) is required. We will provide you with a detailed packing list if you are selected to participate in the camps.

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Please note: no junk food, drugs, alcohol, cell phones, iPods or other electronic devices are permitted on site at the camps. Please leave cell phones and valuables locked in your car if you do bring them (the signal in Valley can be hit or miss anyways). Medication is permitted. Appropriate swimwear (including a towel) and footwear are needed as there are daily runs, swims, and other outdoor activities – be prepared!  Also, be aware that UBC students will be split into different groups, so please don’t plan to share tents or other materials with fellow students.

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When and where are the camps?

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The 2017 camp dates are:

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  • Caregiver Camp (foster families)
    •  July 18-20
    • Location: Kwantlen First Nation in Fort Langley
  • Natural Changes Camp (women & girls only):
    • July 31-August 3
    • Location: TBD
  • Warrior Camp (men & boys only):
    • July 31-August 3
    • Location: TBD
  • Family Camp:
    • August 15-17
    • Location: Kwantlen First Nation in Fort Langley
  • Youth Day Camps:
    • July 4 – Location: TBD
    • July 26 – Location: Cultus Lake
    • August 22 – Location: TBD
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Camps normally take place during the summer months of July and August in the Fraser Valley. The exact location of each camp may change year to year, and will be announced closer to the date of each camp.

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What costs are associated with the camps?

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The cost for the camps is minimal, because your food and accommodation costs are covered for the entirety of the camp. Carpooling with other UBC students is recommended because transportation and mileage are not reimbursed (we will assist you in coordinating carpooling). Some students may need to rent or purchase camping equipment (e.g. sleeping bag, tent) if they do not already own or are unable to borrow equipment.

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Is there anything else I should know?

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Flexibility is key! Schedules at the camp are loose and shifting, and the attitudes towards ‘time’ and ‘structure’ can be different than what some students may be used to. Students are encouraged to be self-reliant at the camps and make the most of their own experience. Remember that you are not there to lead; you are there to learn, to lend a hand, and to be part of the camp experience.

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