The fourth annual Teens Lead Ahead (TLA) took place June 18-21 in Bethel.
Organized by Teens Acting Against Violence (TAAV) in Bethel, the four day youth leadership camp focused on the theme, “Keep the Cycle Positive.” Drew Michael, the mask carver whose exhibit, Aggravated Organisms, was on display earlier this spring at the Cultural Center in Bethel, mentored the youth as they carved their own masks. Marie Alfred showed the teens how to create their own story knives. Keggulluk returned for a second year to talk about the importance of having a positive mindset, persistence, perception, piiaq, and making good choices. He also led the group in a yuraq. Teens Lead Ahead celebrates Yup’ik culture and traditions, local artisanship, and the power of youth from the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta to support each other in creating positive changes in this region. At fish camp, the youth did many subsistence activities including stripping bark off of trees to hang fish, catching fish, cutting fish, preparing ducks, gathering tundra for tundra tea, singing, dancing, making akutaq, and swimming.
TAAV has welcomed youth from Napaskiak, Kotlik, Kwethluk, and Kipnuk to Teens Lead Ahead in the past. This year, youth from each of those villages returned, and for the first time, teens from Atmautluak, Hooper Bay, and Scammon Bay flew in for the camp. It was wonderful to have a greater representation of youth from throughout the Delta.
TLA would not have been possible without support from chaperones and community members in each of the villages. Quyana to Ellatmun partnership and Cheryl Offt at AVCP for support, Michelle DeWitt and BCSF who let TWC borrow their fish camp, Sally Russell and KUC for letting youth stay in Sackett Hall, Yuut Elitnaurviat for loaning its mini-bus, Alex Chaney for setting the net, transporting youth, and preparing the fish camp,
Kuskokwim Wilderness Adventures for providing transportation, Mary Beaver for donating some ducks, Sam Chanar for his help at the dorms, Christina Polachi, Shannon Cogan, and James Wayne for their help in setting up, Nicotine Control, Elizabeth Roll, Tiffany Tony, Debbie Fairbanks, Swansons, AC, and Public Health for providing food.