In the Northeastern part of the United States in Indian Township, Maine, the effects of winter are still present on the Passamaquoddy Reservation. It’s a time to chop your own firewood to stay warm and drill holes in the ice to catch fish for food. As the residents on the reservation look forward to Spring, our young men serving as part of the Vohokase Cultural Leadership program give back to their community and its elderly population.
Leadership is at the heart of Camp Vohokase and a key element of this work is the “Hometown Visit.” I travel to each class’ location three times a year to mentor a group of young men in the program on leadership through bonding and community service. We believe that by teaching these lessons, these young men can learn how to become prominent leaders of their peer groups. The visits also provide an opportunity for the campers to connect on a deeper intellectual level with the ones that surround them.
The Passamaquoddy Tribe is home to our sophomore class in the Vohokase Cultural Leadership Program. Isaiah, Xavier and Dalton have been in the program for one year now and understand the importance of everything we seek to accomplish. During this visit, the young men delivered frozen moose meat to the elderly in the community to help keep them
fed. Our co-founder, Matt Light, harvested one of the moose we delivered.The young men helped Reservation police officer, Matt Dana, load the moose meat from freezers into the back of his squad car. From there, we traveled door to door on the elderly side of the reservation to hand deliver the goods to those who needed it most. One Tribal Community member, Frank Tomah, showed his appreciation by teaching a few words to our young men in the Passamaquoddy language. At 87 years of age, Frank is one of the last Passamaquoddy speaking members on the Reservation. He explained to the young men the importance of keeping the tradition alive. Frank mentioned the idea to Matt Dana of starting a class at the Tribal Office for anyone who wants to learn the Passamaquoddy language. These moments make our efforts in the Vohokase Cultural leadership Camp worth all of the work!
Visits to the Passamaquoddy Reservation are made possible by Matt Dana. We owe him a great deal of thanks for the effort he puts in towards giving back to the youth in his community through our Vohokase Program. Matt understands the importance of keeping traditions alive in the community, and he incorporates those needs into our efforts. Delivering the moose meat was an example of the past when those able to hunt delivered their killings to the elderly who aren’t able to hunt anymore.
The young men gained a better understanding of how important the Passamaquoddy language is and that they should try to learn it before it is gone for good. They also learned the value of serving their community and the elderly that live in it by delivering food to those in need. Missions like these help integrate a service-minded approach into the lives of these young men and provide them the ability to continue to give back even after the Vohokase Program is over for them.
Watch here to see the impact made!
Camp Vohokase Director