We offer a 5 week camp during the summer. Each day is filled with adventure, friendship and empowerment.
Our campers participate in activities like:
- Caring for their traditional Zuni waffle gardens while learning about the farming techniques of their ancestors
- Learning the importance of good nutrition
- Making traditional Zuni pottery with Noreen Simplicio, using clay from Zuni lands and paint extracted from native dyes
- Hiking through unique parts of Zuni land filled with ruins and ancient petroglyphs
- Learning Zuni history, language, cooking, dancing, and oven-making through stories, photos, movies, and hands on activities
- Making soap from yucca plants and learning how to grind native corn into cornmeal
- Swimming, archery, yoga, biking, soccer, basketball, native games, and more!
Zuni elders volunteer through the Zuni Senior Citizens Center to be “foster grandparents” and share their knowledge and wisdom with the kids in each of these activities.
Summer Camp History
The ZYEP Summer Camp grew out of necessity. Zuni is a very rural pueblo, far from any city. Most parents do not have the means to send their kids away for summer camp. As a result, too many Zuni kids were “sitting around,” watching TV, eating unhealthy foods, and looking for things to relieve their boredom.
Summertime in Zuni used to often be a lost opportunity. Instead of learning new things, developing a sense of accomplishment, and being physically active, kids were too often laying the seeds of preventable adult diseases, which are far too common in Zuni.
Funded initially by the American Academy of Pediatrics, an impressive array of community partners banded together to form an alternative to the typical Zuni summer. We hosted our first summer camp in 2009. The energy and enthusiasm was amazing, leaving the kids and staff exhausted and excited for the next day.
We had found a powerful way to reach kids, while also creating a strong coalition of community partners who wanted to keep this momentum going.
ZYEP conducts program evaluation for all our activities.
The level of physical fitness of each participant is assessed twice annually using the Tri-fit program as well as weight, height, and percent body fat. In addition, participants and their families are surveyed before and after each summer to assess changes in their knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors surrounding fitness, nutrition, and mental health.
An in-depth evaluation of program impact conducted in 2010 showed that children had statistically significant improvements in:
- Daily physical activity, increasing nearly 10 minutes per day
- Daily soda consumption, decreasing 9.3 ounces per day
- Strength, increase of 6 pounds in bicep curls
Participants also demonstrated a strong trend towards reduced body fat by 1.25%, decreased Kool-Aid consumption by 3 servings per week, and improved times on a 200 meter run.
Seventeen adolescents aged 16-19 were enrolled and all seventeen completed the nine-week program. Participants demonstrated statistically significant improvements in self-efficacy when asked:
- If I work hard, I know I can do anything with my life
- I am sure I will graduate college after high school
Planning for Our Future
We count on this community support to keep these camps running. Please support us if you can!