By Amikogaabawiikwe (Adrienne Benjamin) Mille Lacs Band Member
On Tuesday, July 17, a group of 45 youth from each district came together at the Big Sandy Lodge in McGregor (District II). This was an initiative of the Aanjibimaadizing Youth Wii-Doo Program.
The leadership portion of the day was led by Commissioner of Education Rick St. Germaine and his son Ricky St. Germaine. The day started with breakfast followed by a stirring speech by Commissioner St. Germaine. He talked about his dream of being a bus driver when he graduated high school after being inspired by the elderly man who drove the bus that he rode every day to school. He said, “I knew that man was going to eventually get too old to drive the bus, and even at that young age, I thought to myself, ‘Who will drive kids to school in the future?’ I knew that graduating was really important for me to do that so that I could do what I wanted to do.” The kids attentively listened and interacted when asked questions about their own aspirations after school.
The next part of the day was a “trust walk.” Youth were each given blindfolds and split into 10 different teams. In the first part of the walk, all but one of the team members were blindfolded, and the non-blindfolded team member was tasked with leading the others through a series of obstacles including hills, rocks, trees, and curbs. The youth were then each given an opportunity to lead their group. On the final leg, only one member was blindfolded, but the trick was that they had to be the one to lead, and the other team members who were not blindfolded had to communicate their path without words.
Buffet lunch was held and the afternoon session commenced with a game of “Square the Rope.” Youth were blindfolded after being given special boundaries to adhere to. A rope was then dropped in the vicinity of those boundaries and youth had to find the rope, untie its many knots, and then proceed to make a square with each team member having to hold on to the rope with at least one hand continuously. One of the youth participants from District III, named Kaden, rose to the challenge of leadership and began walking around the inside of the circle and using his body to measure where to place four knots that could be used as measurement tools for the corners of the square that needed to be created by the group. Eventually the group followed Kaden’s lead and successfully made a perfect square while blindfolded!
The afternoon wrapped up with a special appearance by Siama Matuzungidi and Dallas Johnson Jr., a husband and wife singing duo that celebrates the music of the Congo, Africa, where Siama was born and raised. The youth were singing along to the unique callback melodies and even had the op- portunity to play and hear instruments from the Congo region.
The rest of the late afternoon and evening was spent in the water enjoying the wonderful Big Sandy facility. The youth got a chance to go on a pontoon, floating island, paddleboards, and kayaks. The event was an enriching experience for youth and staff alike. Miigwech to the Big Sandy facility and to the Aanjibimaadizing program for sharing such a wonderful experience!
Photos: Music, games, trust walks, and boating made for a memorable learning experience at Big Sandy Lodge on July 17.The event was part of a summer program sponsored by Aanjibimaadizing.