More than 200 students attend Camp Cherokee

07/30/2018 09:45 AM
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Camp Cherokee participant Ella Mounce baits the hook of a turtle trap as fish and wildlife camp instructor Dr. Paul Shipman observes during the 2018 Camp Cherokee in Welling. COURTESY
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Camp Cherokee instructor Frances Head leads a rocket-making and launching class for students during the annual camp at Camp Heart O’ Hills in Welling. COURTESY
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Camp Cherokee counselors Sky Wildcat, far left, and Jake Chavez, far right, stand with residential campers before playing stickball during the 2018 Camp Cherokee in Welling. COURTESY
WELLING – More than 200 Cherokee students participated in cultural, educational and recreational activities in late July as part of the 2018 Camp Cherokee at Camp Heart O’ Hills.

The annual camp provides academic experiences, including classes in the areas of art and science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, such as trapping turtles and fish for research, building paper rockets and clay pottery sculpting. Cultural and recreational activities included stickball, blowgun classes, volleyball, swimming and more.

The Cherokee Nation’s Johnson-O’Malley program coordinates the annual camp. JOM Manager Mark Vance said the camp is equally rewarding for staff and volunteers.

“Camp Cherokee is such a rewarding experience, not only for our campers but our staff and volunteers as well,” Vance said. “To see these Cherokee youth really engage in these activities is really special to watch, and I know it will have a positive impact on their future.”

More than 110 students in eighth through 12th grades attended the residential camp, with 105 first through seventh grade students attending the camp as day campers. The camp is free to all students.

Second-year residential camper Ella Mounce said her favorite activity is setting traps for turtles, fish and other animals to study the wildlife before releasing them back to their habitats, but it’s the overall experience of Camp Cherokee that is so special to her.

“Participating in Camp Cherokee means a lot to me because I can do traditional crafts here. I can do robotics or other activities, and it’s just a really fun experience,” Mounce, of Stilwell, said.
Camp Cherokee is hosted every summer at Camp Heart O’ Hills. Staff also host annual day camps at locations around the 14-county area. This year day camps were held at Briggs, Claremore, Jay, Kansas, Nowata and Vian.

“Camp Cherokee is a wonderful opportunity for our Cherokee youth. It not only provides cultural lessons and activities, but also allows hands-on educational experiences in the areas of art and STEM subjects,” Deputy Chief S. Joe Crittenden said. “Allowing these youth to experience subjects of this matter early in life is very important and can spark an interest that lasts a lifetime. I thank the employees and volunteers for taking the time to provide such a well-rounded and enriching camp experience to our youth.”

For more information, call 918-453-5224 or email


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