In partnership with Generations Indigenous Ways, the nonprofit Cheyenne River Youth Project has launched a new seasonal camping program on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation that allows young people to strengthen the connections they have with their traditional culture and the natural environment. On Apr. 8-10, CRYP and a group of Cheyenne River youth joined GIW Executive Director Helene Gaddie and her team for two days on the prairie near Green Grass, South Dakota.

During CRYP’s first Lakota Spring Camp, young people learned about the Great Plains ecosystem, traditional Lakota star knowledge, the principle of Mni Wiconi (water is life), and much more. While on site in the camp tipi, they created journal entries with original artwork that conveyed what they saw and learned during this life-changing experience.

“Our first CRYP Lakota Spring Camp was a fabulous success,” said Julie Garreau, CRYP’s executive director. “We are so grateful to Generation Indigenous Ways and Helene Gaddie for bringing their team to mentor and guide us. 

“We also offer our heartfelt thanks to the Nike N7 Fund, Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation, the National Recreation Foundation, the Opportunity Youth Forum (part of the Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions), and the John T. Vucurevich Foundation for helping to make this initiative possible,” she added. “And, we are deeply grateful to our kids, who were so enthusiastic and flexible throughout this experience.”

According to Jerica Widow, CRYP’s programs director, the youth project has already scheduled additional camps for summer, fall, and winter. The goal, she said, is to offer four camps each year.

“I’m so thankful for my new camp family,” she reflected. “CRYP and GIW had a great weekend, learning from the land and each other.” 

Gaddie agreed, noting that the weekend experience was a positive one for all concerned.

“I spent two days in the beautiful Lakota grasslands,” she said, “and our elders can be proud knowing that our people, our youth, are reclaiming are ancestral rights as Lakota, connecting to Unci Makha (Mother Earth), and learning the importance of the vital ecosystems we live in — and why we need to protect them.” 

Generations Indigenous Ways is a community-based Native nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering American Indian youth with the knowledge of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education enhanced by Oglala Lakota values and way of life using Indigenous Sciences. It provides year-round education programs for American Indian students from the large land base of the Seven Council Fires, which covers the state of South Dakota. To learn more, visit 

To learn more about the Cheyenne River Youth Project and its programs, and for information about making donations and volunteering, call (605) 964-8200 or visit And, to stay up to date on the latest CRYP news and events, follow the youth project on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

The Cheyenne River Youth Project is dedicated to giving our Lakota youth and families access to the culturally relevant, enriching, and enduring opportunities we need to build stronger, healthier communities and a more vibrant future together.