Wapato’s Camp Lakayxitlama Focuses on The Light

The All Nations Center’s mission in Wapato, Wash., is “to empower all people toward spiritual, physical, and emotional healing through service to the Creator.” By offering a summer day camp this year, members put that philosophy to work among young people, in a fun and challenging environment. For four weeks, in July and August, a total of 85 children enrolled from the Yakama Reservation, with more than 20 different campers participating each week.

The Camp’s name, Lakayxitlama (Seekers of Light), reflects a view prominent on the Reservation—that God is a Light. Campers were invited to seek that Light.

A staff of 10 adults and young adults sought to serve as Christ would have done. They opened camp each morning with a worship talk about character traits—attentiveness, truthfulness, respect, dependability, and forgiveness—illustrated by animals and their God-given characteristics. Each day also featured study of the Sahaptin tongue, the language of the Yakama Nation peoples, taught by Diane Kahclemat and aide Saundra Trzinski. By the end of the week, campers could recite numbers from 1-20, share greetings, name colors, and use some basic Sahaptin words.

In crafts class, Bernice Jim taught campers how to remove bark from the cedar tree for basket making, without hurting the tree or wasting material. Some class members were so inspired, they made baskets on their own, while on family camping trips.


Brad Dennis and Terri Weijohn taught gymnastics, including some advanced moves, such as the back handspring. Dean Kravig taught an archery section, including safety rules, history, terminology, shooting technique, and scoring. Tuesdays’ and Thursdays’ schedules included trips to the local pool, and on Wednesdays, campers did community service projects. James Cole, Wapato Parks Department director, assigned the campers a city-beautification project each week—projects that tied in with Wednesday-morning worship talks on respect. Each day also featured a skit, based on one of two themes: “Treat others the way you want to be treated” or “I’m no better than you, and you’re no better than I am.”

The Camp segments closed each Friday evening with Family Night, when family and friends saw what the children had learned during the week. The program included gymnastics demonstrations, archery, Sahaptin language recitation, skits, and basket displays.

Most Camp funding came from donors who believe in the mission of All Nations Center and in the life-changing qualities of the Camp. Staffers this year were Peter Trzinski, pastor; Dean Kravig, director; Brad and DeeAnna Dennis, associate directors; and Buddy Cultee, Midnight Koski, Kola Shippentower, Karissa Kravig, Alice Kravig, and Heather Robins. •

September 01, 2002 / Upper Columbia Conference