ZYEP’s flagship program is a five-week summer camp serving 200 Zuni youth annually. By integrating Zuni culture into education, physical activity, nutrition, gardening, and art activities, our summer camp enhances our youth participants’ learning and health while giving them a deeper connection to their traditions. At camp, caring mentors find meaningful ways to teach youth Zuni language, traditional gardening, art, social dances, and more about what makes them special. These culturally enriching activities are blended with a conventional camp curriculum that includes: S.T.E.M., nutrition, sports, games, and self care. Our young campers report improvements across many health indicators like enjoyment of physical activity, increased consumption of fruits and vegetables, improved peer and mentor relationships, and deeper connections to Zuni culture.
In addition to providing activities for our campers, summer camp also incorporates mentoring experiences for Zuni teens and young adults who serve as camp counselors. In preparation for their mentor roles, the camp counselors engage in a leadership development program consisting of a four-day outdoor retreat to a culturally significant site, a week of professional development workshops, and daily group sessions. ZYEP’s leadership program helps the camp counselors develop communication, leadership, and mentoring skills; higher education and career goals; and valuable work experience. Every year, camp counselors comment on their positive experiences and personal growth.