Hayzil Yellow Fox was just a small child when she first began coming to CRYP’s “The Main” youth center. Back then, as for many children, it was all about the daily fun, from arts and crafts to playing with the short- and long-term volunteers.

And, as with many children, Hayzil looked forward to being old enough to play basketball at Cokata Wiconi (Center of Life). As a teen, she could attend Midnight Basketball and enjoy open gym hours. 

But there was a far more important opportunity waiting for her behind Cokata Wiconi’s doors: CRYP’s teen internship program.

“I didn’t know about the internships,” Hayzil remembers. “A friend told me about them and said I’d be a good fit. It sounded like fun, like something I’d enjoy.”

To date, Hayzil has completed Native Wellness and Indigenous Cooking internships. She says the interns must arrive at CRYP prepared for each day’s lessons and tasks, and they have more responsibilities than people might realize.

“It makes us more independent, and makes us think ahead,” she explains.

Hayzil says she has gained so much from her internship experiences, from building new relationships to learning new things.

“We can cook with more natural foods now,” she reports. “I also had so much fun in Native Wellness, but I was learning at the same time!”

A bonus came in the form of her CPR/First Aid training, which is mandatory for CRYP interns in all five internship tracks (the youth project also offers internships in Social Enterprise, Native Food Sovereignty and Art). Thanks to the training, Hayzil got a new job.

“CPR/First Aid training was good for me, because now that I have the certification, my Mom was able to sign me up to be a lifeguard,” she says. “That’s something I couldn’t do before.”

Hayzil says she is grateful to CRYP, and for more than the internships.

“CRYP brings people closer together, and not just little kids—all ages, including adults,” she explains. “It also teaches us about our culture and our traditional life ways. We know we don’t have to be like that, but it’s nice to be connected to it. I think people would be surprised to know that we are really into our culture.

“For example, we were making bapa soup in our internship, and the volunteers asked what we were making. I told them that we were making it with buffalo, which is very normal to me, but it wasn’t to them. I liked sharing that with them. I also liked learning from them about their culture as well.”

When she’s not busy at CRYP, Hayzil participates in a variety of travel camps and summer programs.

“I did go to Nationals and Worlds for archery, and I love to draw and paint,” she says. “I want to learn a little more of everything, because I don’t know what I want to do (in the future) yet. 

“I want to go to college out of state, but only because I love traveling so much,” she adds. “I’m outgoing and like to meet new people. My goal is to visit all 50 states!”