Guest Blogger: Claire

Native American boys having fun in the sun!
Having fun in the sun!

The high school kids had a long Labor Day weekend, and all of the homes planned special trips for the occasion. The Giles Home (freshmen boys) decided that they wanted to camp out at the Lifelight concert in Sioux Falls.  Lifelight is a free Christian music festival that attracts over 300,000 people every year.  There are five stages, merchandise booths, concessions and all sorts of activities going on throughout the weekend.  Plus there is a large area set aside for people who want to tent camp.

Trips like these are one of the ways we can build Circle of Courage values (Independence, Mastery, Belonging and Generosity) while disguising it as “just having fun.”  It’s kind of like drowning broccoli in cheese sauce so that they don’t realize it’s good for them. 🙂

The Giles boys are good at Belonging.  They get along well together and look out for each other.  Unless of course, someone farts in the tent.  Then it is every man for himself.  They also warned each other not to trip over the … cord for the rain fly.  Usually after someone face planted on the ground, but still.

They are surprisingly Generous.  We saw a man holding a, “Will work for food” sign by the side of the road.  They gathered together some of their favorite snacks, and Isaiah hopped off the mini-bus to deliver them.  The boys’ favorite part was when I accidentally started the bus back up while Isaiah was changing seats, and he went bouncing down the aisle.  Oops.

Independence skills like checking in on time are very important, especially in a crowded, several-acre venue.  Most of the boys did a great job coming back to the campsite every hour and checking in with a houseparent before going back out to catch a show, play some hoops, listen to a band or check out the cute girls.  What, huh?  Flirting at a Christian festival?  Ohhhh yeah.  All those “Free Hug” signs are just irresistible.  Sadly, one boy did get “lost.”  Finding a missing kid among 100,000 visitors is quite a challenge.  After calling out a search party for him, we found him happily hanging out with another  SJIS home.  Phew!  Apparently, he had taken on more responsibility than he could manage, so his freedoms were curtailed for the evening.

They guys had lots of opportunities to demonstrate Mastery, from putting up/striking tents, to working the camping lanterns, to making s’mores on the camp stove.  We forgot sticks, but they came up with the brilliant idea of using a (clean) metal tent-peg.  Perfect!  Another  challenge for them was visiting the cathedral in Sioux Falls for Mass.  The impressive Romanesque architecture, incense, Latin inscriptions and chanted prayers are very different from the Mass for Children that they celebrate at Our Lady of the Sioux Chapel on St. Joseph’s campus.  They followed along pretty well, just like they would at home, only with a bit more looking around.

“This is cool.”

All around, it was a good Labor Day weekend.  It felt good to get back to the Giles Home and into the air conditioning.  And showers.  And real beds.  The boys are already talking about plans for our next home trip, which we will take next semester.  They are thinking skiing. (I might as well start practicing to use crutches now.)

Thank you again for your generosity, which makes trips like these possible.  I hope to see some of you at our powwow, which is coming up in a few weeks!


High School Houseparent

A weekend outdoors

St. Joseph’s Indian School’s campus had all kinds of different activities going on. As I looked out my office window I saw our archers moving their targets from inside the gym to outdoors on the football field, where they could see how they fared with longer distances and wind. The t-ball field was active with a game, and the swings of the playground were arching high. The Explorers groups had a charity car wash to raise funds for a trip to Minnesota to see a Twins baseball game.

With just three weeks left of the high school year, a fair number of our older students attended Saturday school to catch up on missing assignments and make up work.

A few of the homes were away on their annual Home Trip. Two groups were in Rapid City touring the Black Hills. The Fisher Home (6th – 8th grade boys) spent the weekend only a half mile away, at American Creek Campground but enjoyed sleeping in tents, fishing and exploring the great outdoors.

The Sheehy Home (high school boys) celebrated Earth Day. They left campus with empty garbage bags, and scoured town until they returned with full ones.

Mid-afternoon, the high school homes gathered for a picnic. The day was sunny, but our prairie winds were fierce, sometimes gusting up to 45 miles per hour. The grills were moved inside the garage, and the meal was a tasty success. But neither potato chips nor paper plates lasted long on the picnic table before they were airborne. The basketball court was busy, but the players had to rely on layups rather than any finesse distance shots. I threw some horseshoes with a few of the guys and I think the wind even affected the flying metal shoes. I know it almost blew me over a couple of times!