By Gene Kolaczkowski
Today is our final day of our Children’s Healing Camp experience. Describing the week is so hard to put into words. The emotions we all experienced are so wide ranging and so intense. For myself I come away feeling exhausted, but exhilarated at the same time. I know what each of us from the Healing Camp team gave was so important to the success of the camp and to the children beginning their healing journey. I can tell we made an impact on so many children that attended camp. When the children arrived on Wednesday afternoon we were strangers and by weeks end they were calling us by our first names, asking for piggy back rides, and on the last day asking if we were coming back next year. I know the children learned a lot from us too, not only from the activities we did with them but from our patient, caring presence each day.
This year’s camp was exceptional not only in what we accomplished, but in what we were able to participate in. We were invited to participate in a Blessing Ceremony and in a Lakota Naming Ceremony. Being able to observe the ceremony was a treat, but when we were asked to participate that was a treasured experience. I know that we are making a difference in the lives of the children we were with this week. I also can’t help but think that in some small way we are helping heal some of the deeper historical trauma the Lakota people have experienced over the centuries.
Today we got up early from our rooms at the Lakota Prairie Ranch Resort and drove on the scenic loop through Badlands National Park. I was able to use my senior citizen lifetime National Park pass for the first time. Another member of our team was able to purchase one as well, but I won’t say who that was. After some photo stops and a few short hikes we were on our way back to Minnesota and Wisconsin. We had smooth sailing all the way home. It was a wonderful week and one all of us won’t forget anytime soon.