Hey, Camp Fans!
Today is the fourth Friday of September: Native American Day—the day we set aside in honor of the Natives of this country, the original American settlers. With a long past to their culture and peoples, it’s important to understand their history. Summer camps all over the country embrace Native American history and culture by adopting Native names.
Commonly referred to as American Indians due to a mistake made by Christopher Columbus (having thought himself to be in India when he met them), Native Americans have a plethora of names from which to borrow. Why is that?
Because: the Native Americans were spread out across the entire North and South American continents; to say, ‘The Natives’ spans a vast number of similar people who all had different languages, customs, and beliefs among themselves. The Natives lived in small, spread-out ‘neighborhoods’ that were more like separate nations. A slew of tribes and varieties among them spawned many different names.
At Keystone Camp, you’re an Apache, Cherokee, Shawnee, or Seminole. Camp Ton-A-Wandah (which means ‘by the fall of water’) splits its campers into three tribes: the Cherokee, Navajo, and Mohawk tribes. Camp Netimus itself is named after an 18 century Indian chief of Delaware.
So why do summer camps use so many Native names? It’s a tribute and a desire to emulate the Native Americans. After all, they were the first campers! They camped before camping even existed! Back then it was just how they lived, roughin’ it and living off the land—all day, every day.
It just goes to show that even though everyone lives in houses now, it’s still a vital and deeply essential skill to be able to survive off the land. To Natives all across the land, Everything Summer Camp and summer camps across the country honor you today. As always, thanks for reading.