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Lax-4-Life Lacrosse Camp celebrates five years

Members of the Minnesota Swarm assist in last week’s Lax-4-Life Camp on the Fond du Lac Reservation. Contributed Photo

The National Lacrosse League’s (NLL) Minnesota Swarm, in partnership with the Minnesota Army National Guard and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, hosted the fifth annual Lax-4-Life Camp, a weeklong lacrosse camp for Native American boys and girls, last week on the Fond du Lac Reservation. The Pine Journal previously wrote about Lax-4-Life and organizer Brian Bosto receiving recognition from the Obama Administration for its efforts in promoting healthy lifestyle choices for Native American youth.

Over 40 boys and girls from all across Minnesota and Wisconsin attended this year’s camp, which concluded last Thursday evening with the annual “Game for The Creator” and a banquet reception for campers and family members.

Lax-4-Life campers are receiving lacrosse instruction from Swarm team captain Andrew Suitor, assistant coach Aime Caines, Swarm equipment manager and former University of Minnesota Men’s Club defenseman Ross Chicantek, and Meg Herlofsky, the head coach of Hamline’s Women’s Lacrosse Club.

Supporting partners of the camp include the University of Minnesota, Lax-4-Life co-founder and Minneapolis Police Officer Clint Letch, Lax-4-Life co-founder and Brookston Community Center Manager Bryan Bosto, Minneapolis Police Department, Under Armour Lacrosse and ASPIRE Beverages.

Together, the partners look at this unique venture 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.

“We helped create this camp five years ago with the belief that we could change lives in the Native Community, and this camp has done just that,” said Andy Arlotta, Swarm co-owner and Lax-4-Life co-founder.

“Lax-4-Life is much more than just a lacrosse camp, it’s an opportunity for these kids to find new inspirations in life, and create lasting friendships. We’re fortunate to have two great presenting partners in the Minnesota Army National Guard and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, who also share this same belief. Without their support, this camp would not be possible and we are very grateful for everything they do.”

Tribal Communities that have attended the camp over the 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, White Earth Nation, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and Ho-Chunk Nation.

The Minnesota Army National Guard, who was the camp’s presenting partner for the third consecutive year, had several members on hand to help mentor the youth, as well as host fitness activities, which included a rock climbing wall and an obstacle course, and lead classroom sessions on career opportunities and healthy lifestyle choices.

“Diversity is a source of strength and the Native American Lax-4-Life partnership helps empower today’s youth with opportunity, tools and the support necessary for personal development and growth,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Burggraff, Commander of Minnesota Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion. “This partnership develops culturally astute soldiers and civilians improving our organization and the communities in which we serve.”

This year’s camp again took place at the Fond du Lac Community Center. Through a partnership with the University of Minnesota, all of the campers’ lodging at the school’s Forestry Center were provided at no cost.