• Badlands formations against the blue sky; photo by Rikk Flohr


    National Park South Dakota

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Second Annual Badlands Youth Camp Fosters Cultural Exchange

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Date: March 18, 2013
Contact: Jennie Kish Albrinck , 605-433-5240
Contact: Julie Johndreau , 605-433-5242

During the week of March 17, students from three schools-Wall High School in Wall, S.D., Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, S.D., and The Calhoun School in New York City-will participate in a youth camp at Badlands National Park. Students will experience the great outdoors together while hiking, camping out, and participating in activities facilitated by park rangers, park scientists and teachers. This week of cultural exchange and the study of nature through science and art will offer opportunities to foster a shared stewardship of public lands.

This youth camp supports nationwide National Park Service initiatives that focus on creating meaningful connections with diverse and under-served youth that could encourage them to pursue related careers. It also emphasizes using the arts to share the many meanings of national parks with new audiences. The South Unit of Badlands is poised to become the first tribal national park. Badlands Superintendent Eric Brunnemann stated "By bringing these young people to the park today, we are not only growing the future leaders of what may become the first tribal national park, but also inspiring the next generation of scientists and leaders."

Russ Cournoyer, chairman of the Spiritual Formation Department at Red Cloud Indian School, will be one of the teacher-leaders. His involvement will offer the opportunity for both tribal and non-tribal youth to learn about Lakota history and culture in the Badlands region.

Poet, photographer, and teacher Gary Joseph Cohen of New York City will lead youth camp participants for the second year in a row. Cohen plans to return to the Badlands this summer to continue working with local high school interns.

The students will also be accompanied by Artist-in-Residence Jessica Bryant, a watercolor painter.Bryant will lead students in the creation of mixed-media nature journals to document their experience at the camp."A journal is open-ended," she says."It is a single location for them to record thoughts and memories as well as sketches of places, plants, animals, or ideas.  It can incorporate writing, or not, as they wish.It will be a wonderful keepsake of the experience."

The Youth Camp represents a partnership between National Park Service, the participating schools, Friends of the Badlands, Badlands Natural History Association, and National Park Foundation.

Did You Know?

Tepee in front of the White River Visitor Center

Badlands National Park established a partnership in 1976 with the Oglala Sioux Tribe, sharing lands, specifically the South Unit, and splitting entrance fees. 50% of the fees collected in the park are transferred to the tribe for resource management and recreation projects.