In today’s era of ever-changing social and cultural norms, we have found it necessary to reflect upon any practices or content and delivery of our programs that is offensive or disrespectful to Indigenous Peoples and their culture. Our deep-rooted history is not unlike hundreds of other camps across the nation, whose foundations began at the turn of the century with traditions developed around some version of “Tribal Culture”. Today, however, we understand that the appropriation of any imagery, ceremony or practices related to indigenous cultures are inappropriate and contribute to the perpetuation of racial stereotypes. Consequently, we are striving to remove any programming that mimics diverse Native American cultures while maintaining the many other important aspects of our camp history that better align with our values and mission.
We understand that these changes will be difficult for some and cannot happen soon enough for others. There is simply no way for any camp to honor these various cultures with their diverse and complex languages, customs and spiritual practices, even with the best of intentions. As such, during the past three years, we have been implementing necessary changes and our efforts are ongoing. To date we have purposefully implemented the following in our programming: removing headdresses and regalia mimicking Indigenous culture, restructuring our ceremonies, altering Native American imagery (ongoing), updating camp merchandise (ongoing).
One of the last, but most important parts of our evolution is the renaming of our three Tribes/Nations/Teams in a way that is both thoughtful and purposeful. Dividing our campers into groups has been an integral part of camp life that creates a sense of inclusion and pride of belonging. Our Camp Teams help foster community, competition, and camp culture. This past year we moved towards utilizing just our colors; red, purple, and blue. This is not our long term solution. We are proceeding thoughtfully to choose the best possible alternative team names for our future at TAW.
Thank you for your continued support in our ongoing efforts to be the best Camp possible! Thank you for your patience as we continue to navigate and reform treasured traditions at TAW.
The teams at camp are cohesive small groups that melt away age differences at camp, creating a strong sense of sisterhood and pride among and within the three teams. By encouraging a healthy spirit of competition, our campers learn to set goals, to coach each other, and to support and cheer on their sisters! By practicing proper sportsmanship, these games provide a common thread among team members but never break the bond of team unity.
Allowing for the opportunity of natural mentorship to develop, each team elects two co-council members and two head cheerleaders to lead and organize the members for various activities throughout the session. By the lake, with all of camp surrounding the Council Fire, ceremonies led by the council of each team are held to initiate new members or to signify the start of building new relationships. These three teams are among Ton-A-Wandah’s oldest and most revered traditions, with membership passed down from mother to daughter, aunt to niece, sister to sister.
With the campfire blazing, campers join in song and dance and listen to old Ton-A-Wandah legends, imparting a strong connection to tradition at Ton-A-Wandah.