Ishaan Dhadral a first year camp counsellor reflects on his experiences with the diocesan environmental justice ministry Salal + Cedar and their summer youth program that took place August 2018 at Southlands Farm in Vancouver and Sycamore Commons in Powell River.
The last day of training is where the journey really began. Even though the staff and I had long days of training; the roles we were taking on, being a positive part in the campers lives, was a daunting task. Prior to this camp I had little to no experience with managing and caring for youth. Yet on that Sunday afternoon I saw that they were all lovely and understanding humans who came to learn and care for our land and the its people.
Over the weeks we sat in circles to reconnect our souls to the land, learned about the injustices that were made upon its indigenous inhabitants and learned how to express ourselves against injustice.
We also gave back to the environment with a habitat restoration project; we worked at a community farm that taught us about the problems that it is facing.
And perhaps one of the biggest takeaways was building a curiosity in the environment and in ourselves which we set out to explore.
My experience at Sacred Earth Camp as a member of the staff and as a leader was nothing short of extraordinary and insightful. Most of my time with the youth was spent learning about all the different perspectives and stories they brought with them.
Through the weeks, the program allowed staff and campers to build strong connections within our tight knit group and the places around us. The teachings that have been passed on through the presenters and the environment itself are ones that will help in becoming better humans who care for the world that we have.
Ishaan Dhadral was a first year counsellor and will be beginning studies in engineering at Douglas College in the fall. He is looking for a future in research and development in the transportation field.
Sacred Earth Camp is a two-week environmental justice and spiritual practice program for youth and young adults run by Salal + Cedar on Coast Salish Territory in the lower Fraser Watershed. It is a locally designed program funded by individual donations and a grant from the Anglican Foundation. To find out how to be a participant, staff member, donor, volunteer or design a similar program contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos: Laurel Dykstra