Three-day camp combines sports, lifestyle and career development
Aboriginal teens from across Canada will converge on McGill University’s downtown campus May 18-20 for the annual First Peoples’ House High Performance Camp. The camp, designed to inspire and empower outstanding Aboriginal youth, promotes the merits of a balanced lifestyle in which athletic excellence and academic achievement are of equal importance.
Now in its second year, the camp addresses the particular need within Aboriginal society of engaging, encouraging and motivating adolescents who are already on the right track. “In our communities, there are a lot of youth at risk, and helping them is very important, but there are also those kids who are doing really well. Often, we don’t reward them because we figure they’re doing ok,” explains Waneek Horn-Miller, coordinator of McGill University’s First Peoples’ House.
The camp’s rigorous athletic activities range from spinning to yoga, kick-boxing to inner-tube water polo. Sessions that delve into the physiology of sports, sports psychology and physical testing are also included, with the goal of giving the young athletes an idea of where they stand physically and skill-wise in their respective sports.
To encourage the teens to consider university as their next destination in the pursuit of their athletic aspirations, this year’s camp will focus as much on academics as on the elite side of athletics. The Faculties of dentistry and medicine and the School of Nursing will host relevant, hands-on workshops introducing campers to career opportunities in the field of health care. “We chose to focus on the health sciences this year because that’s what’s needed in most of our communities,” explained Horn-Miller. “Quebec has only five native doctors and we have two of them coming as guest speakers. They’re great role models for these kids. They can balance all their loves, succeed in all of them and make a living from a career that they can be proud of.”
This year’s camp, which is funded from charitable donations from McGill alumnus and film producer Jake Eberts (Eberts Family Endowment), the Six Nations Dreamcatcher Fund and McGill’s Admissions, Recruitment and Registrar’s Office, is expecting about two dozen 13- to 17-year-old campers from First Nations communities in Saskatchewan, Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick.