Adventure and ‘Way to Go’ at St. Joseph’s Indian School!

As the new school year quickly approaches, St. Joseph’s wanted to take a moment to look back at the past school year. 

Cathy, Houseparent

Hi! My name is Cathy. I am a houseparent in the William Home, one of St. Joseph’s 4th-6th grade girls homes.

Adventure and Way to Go!! are always a couple of the themes interwoven into the William Home’s experiences.

Adventure 

Adventure is defined as ‘an unusual and exciting experience or activity, especially the exploration of unknown territory.’ It also means taking chances. 

Adventure walks were one of our students’ favorite things to do last year! Normally, their favorite activity was the playground, but sometimes an adventure/mystery walk would be offered. 

Initially, there were complaints and grumblings because they would want to know exactly where they were going… but we would tell them that knowing doesn’t fit the definition of adventure or mystery!

p2Now, the girls would not hesitate to say ‘YES’ because they know the walk will result in a fun activity! Wondering and guessing where our destination was always added to the excitement.

To be honest, I usually do not have a clue as to where we are headed, but by starting out in any given direction, I know we  will find our destination along the way. It might be a new hill to roll down solo or in tandem, or a really neat place to play hide and seek!

Each time is always a different and fun adventure.

On Valentine’s Day,  a few of the girls said ‘YES’ to a mystery walk. This particular stroll definitely became an adventure with a capital A!

Within a short time, we all stepped out of our comfort zone and ventured into an area covered in snow and ice. The group climbed steep hills and made our own trails, all while trying not to get caught up in brambles or tree limbs.

The girls showed so much courage, confidence and teamwork– it really made me proud!

It seemed like hours before we reached our destination, although, in reality, it was only about 50 minutes. We were TIRED and BREATHLESS.

I checked in to see if it had been too much for them. They surprised me with their answer: “When can we do it again?”

Way to Go!!

Last August, my houseparent partner Neil and I wanted to do something different.

We set a cookie jar on top of the fridge with a sign on it saying Way to Go!!

p3Whenever a student was noticed doing something positive, a houseparent would quietly slip a paper in the cookie jar. Every week or two, an eager volunteer would pull the papers out of the cookie jar and read out loud who did what, when and who noticed it.

There was usually a look of surprise and a sense of importance from the person whose name was read! Each name called received the note and some Jelly Belly beans (their favorite)!

Before long, we had  a lot of names in the jars from girls looking for opportunities to be positive in their actions. The activity became quite popular!!

On a Sunday in March, Fr. Anthony ends Mass and announces that he would like the girls to meet him in the back after church.  I could feel their anxiety levels rise for being singled out. Many told me later that they believed they were in trouble. I, too, was curious!

The girls had done something back on that Valentine’s Day walk I mentioned earlier. It was one of those Way to Go!! things.

Just as we were leaving for our mastery adventure walk, one of the girls asked if we could deliver a cupcake to Fr. Anthony. The girls loved this idea, so we started our adventure walk in the direction of Fr. Anthony’s home. He wasn’t in, so they left the cupcake with a message: ‘Happy Valentine’s Day!!’

Back at the church’s vestibule in March, the words were read from Fr. Anthony’s card. he eloquently thanked the girls for their kindness and generosity on Valentine’s Day. The girls had that look of importance again and hopefully connected it to their own acts of kindness and generosity.

p1On this day, a good deed did not go by unnoticed. Inside the paper bag from Fr. Anthony was candy! The girls couldn’t wait to go back home and devour it all– and they did.

Our Adventure walk on a Sunday in February ended on this particular day in March with Fr. Anthony. He took the time to notice the willingness to do good and told the girls in his own way: Way to Go!!

Cathy
St. Joseph’s Houseparent

We thank you all for joining with us as we strive to educate the Native American children in our care– mind, body, heart and spirit. 

This next year will be an adventure, but we’re sure it will have many Way to Go!! moments each and every day. We look forward to sharing them with you!

Thank you for joining us on our journey. 

 

Author: St. Joseph's Indian School

At St. Joseph’s Indian School, our privately-funded programs for Lakota (Sioux) children in need have evolved over 89 years of family partnership, experience and education. Because of generous friends who share tax-deductible donations, Native American youth receive a safe, stable home life; individual counseling and guidance; carefully planned curriculum based on Lakota culture and individual student needs and tools to help build confidence, boost self-esteem and improve cultural awareness. All of this helps children to live a bright, productive, possibility-filled future.

7 thoughts on “Adventure and ‘Way to Go’ at St. Joseph’s Indian School!”

  1. Hi Cathy.. sounds like you all had a great year.. Continued good times ahead.. Enjoy the rest of your vacation time.. Thanks for the post. God Bless!

  2. I am glad to hear that students are taking chances to broaden their knowledge and confidence. When my students (years ago) would say we should “try” something new I would ask them why they wanted to experience something “different.” Their answers varied but all came down to a similar theme. That is how we answer “other” questions like why God didn’t try to control us. He wants us to learn about ourselves, to find our limits and grow as people see God’s gifts to us. Those kind of life experiences helped me to trust these eighth graders to grow and meet their world with more confidence as God’s creations. I am so glad that type of spirit still exists between students and those chosen to teach them about our world and God’s gifts to us. Bless you all.

  3. Cathy you are such a blessing to those young girls. Your kindness & adventurist spirit will stay with them for many years to come!

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