Lax-4-Life Lacrosse camp celebrates its third yearThis is the third year the National Lacrosse League’s Minnesota Swarm has partnered with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa to offer a week of lacrosse camp to children of the culture that created the game.
By: Pine Journal, Pine Journal
The first year the National Lacrosse League’s Minnesota Swarm partnered with the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa to offer a week of lacrosse camp to the culture that created the game, 26 boys from reservations in Wisconsin and Minnesota participated. The second year, the camp nearly doubled its numbers and added girls to the mix of 12- to 16-year-old mostly Native American teens.
This week found even more campers back for the third annual Lax-4-Life camp, including a number of former campers who have returned to help with the instruction.
“We’re excited to have kids that have aged out of the program coming back as junior staff members,” said Bryan “Bear” Bosto, manager of the Brookston Community Center and Lax-4-Life co-founder. “This provides them with an opportunity to work with the youth from other reservation communities. Building new friendships and their networks are important components of Lax-4-Life and we also hope campers walk away with a willingness to help others beyond their own reservation communities.”
Lax-4-Life Camp is a five-day, four-night lacrosse camp for Native American boys and girls held at the Brookston Community Center on the Fond du Lac Reservation. Through a partnership with the University of Minnesota, all of the campers’ lodging fees at the school’s Forestry Center have been provided at no cost. Additional supporting partners of the camp include Lax-4-Life co-founder and Minneapolis Police Officer Clint Letch, the Minneapolis Police Department and the Minnesota Army National Guard.
Together, the partners look at this unique venture combining athletics and classroom sessions as a way to offer a healthy alternative to problems that currently affect Native communities such as gangs, drugs, suicide, violence and diabetes. The partners aim to preserve the heritage of the Native’s ancestral game and help restore the tradition of lacrosse to tribal communities.
Campers receive lacrosse instructions from Swarm team captain and 2012 NLL Transition Player of the Year Andrew Suitor, former NLL forward and current Swarm assistant coach Aime Caines, and Meg Herlofsky, the head coach of Hamline’s Women’s Lacrosse Club.
The camp’s main sponsor this year, the Minnesota Army National Guard, had members on hand to help mentor campers and hosted classroom sessions on resiliency, risk reduction and suicide prevention this week. In addition, the National Guard has assembled a production team to stream the camp’s final scrimmage online on July 26 in an effort to give family members who will not be in attendance the unique opportunity to watch their relatives showcase their newly developed lacrosse skills.
“The Minnesota Army National Guard is a strong supporter of diversity and we believe that capitalizing on the best each person has to offer starts with empowering today's youth with opportunity, tools and support necessary for personal development and growth. We are very excited about our Native American Lax-4-Life partnership,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Burggraff, Commander of Minnesota Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion.
Tribal communities that have attended the camp over the past two years include Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Prairie Island Indian Community, Oneida Nation, Little Earth of United Tribes, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Grand Portage Reservation, and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
Earlier this year, Bosto was recognized as a Champion of Change at the White House for his efforts in bringing the traditional Native American sport of lacrosse back to his community. In 2011, Lax-4-Life was honored at the White House during First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move in Indian Country initiative.