Native American Storytelling with Sixth Graders

Native American Storytelling with Sixth Graders

Lou LaBombard has spent six decades telling stories that help educate people about his Native American heritage.

“I’ve told stories all over the United States, Canada, and Europe,” said LaBombard whose background is Seneca and Mohawk. “It’s the way we pass on traditional cultural knowledge.”

Standing beside a firepit next to one of the bunkers at Camp Casey in late May, LaBombard spent about an hour telling stories to a group of more than 50 sixth graders from the Reardan-Edwall School District. They were making their annual trek from their home in eastern Washington.

LaBombard shared stories of origins, tricksters, and legends from Native American cultures. Some of the tales LaBombard told include a Samish story about how beavers came to Pass Lake, which is located on Fidalgo Island within Deception Pass State Park. Others included stories about how the porcupine got their quills, the turtle got their shells, and how a mouse became an eagle.

LaBombard, who taught anthropology and social studies at Skagit Valley College, recently told stories during the Penn Cove Water Festival in Coupeville where he spoke at the Island County Museum and the Pacific Rim Institute. His storytelling has taken him as far as New Zealand this past year, swapping stories with Māori storytellers.

“I don’t consider myself a teacher, I consider myself an educator,” LaBombard said.

The visit to Camp Casey is an annual tradition for the sixth graders from Reardan. They traditionally visit the days leading up to Memorial Day, principal Jamie Mikelson said.

“It’s just fun for the kids to be kids,” Mikelson said. “It’s their last hurrah before they go to middle school.”

For some of the students, it’s the first time they’ve been to the ocean, Mikelson said. They played on the beach and explored the historic bunkers. Their visit to Whidbey Island gives students experiences they don’t have being surrounded by the wheat fields around Reardan. Part of their experience included a visit to the Maxwelton Outdoor Classroom, the Island County Museum in Coupeville and the Langley Whale Center.

The students from Reardan are one of the numerous student groups that visit Camp Casey in the Spring. This year alone, Camp Casey has hosted 10 different school districts and over 1,500 students from all over Washington State — from Seattle to Spokane.

Camp Casey Conference Center is the perfect location for an inspiring group getaway to Whidbey Island, Washington. Ideal for sports campschurch groupsoutdoor education camps, summer camps, and other nonprofit endeavors. Camp Casey provides overnight accommodations and food service for groups large and small. Discounts are available for Seattle Pacific University faculty, staff, and alumni. Fill out our inquiry form today to get the conversation started on rates, dates, and your next adventure at Camp Casey.