|The view looking out our window in the house where we stayed with 25 other|
volunteers. Air mattresses on every inch of floor space.
A caravan of trucks, trailers, and cars traveled two days to the Fort Peck Indian Reservation, to Poplar, Montana, July 19-28 to conduct a four-day Wrangler Camp for kids. Bryant Lane Cowboy Church in Sarah, Three Trees Cowboy Church in Wynne, Ark., and Damascus Road Cowboy Church in Clinton, Ark., sent groups on the road for a brutal two-day travel to the Sioux Nation.
Each day started much like any Vacation Bible School. Kids were registered, contact information—if they had any—collected, then they were given granola bars and a juice box. Second step, inspection and treatment for head lice. Seventy-five percent were positive.
When we provided lunch, we noticed that many children came back and asked for an extra hamburger or hotdog to take home. We found food hidden all around the camp that they intended to come back for later to take to their siblings or caretaker.
Cowboys and cowgirls divided into eight teams led by trail bosses as the youth navigated eight activity stations. These included four horse riding stations, a mechanical bull, archery, shooting gallery, and a stop for a devotion. Who thought cowboys from Mississippi and Arkansas would go to Montana to teach Native Americans to shoot a gun and a bow and ride a horse? Times have changed.
|Roy Wooten at the shooting gallery.|
Life on the remote Fort Peck Indian Reservation in northern Montana has all the ingredients for sex trafficking -- poverty, isolation, joblessness and violence, topped with an epidemic of crystal meth addiction. http://www.thedickinsonpress.com/news/crime-and-courts/4034703-fueled-drugs-sex-trafficking-reaches-crisis-montana-reservation
Most kids live with a "grandma" sometimes not related by blood, but someone who took them in. Parents are meth addicts or alcoholics, are in jail, or just don't care. The tradition family is almost non-existent. Teen suicide is the highest in the nation in this community. There has been another young man lost to suicide since we left.
|The mechanical bull was a favorite|
at the camp and at the block party.
Two nights we hosted Block Parties at the Blue Church in town, a small Baptist Church with a membership less than 20. Sunday services there we an experience we won't soon forget. We got to meet some families and members of the community. They came out for free food, cotton candy, rides on the mechanical bull.
The last night we had a special performance by the Pretty Little Feather Dancers. They dressed in traditional ceremonial regalia accompanied by singers and drummers. We even got to join them in the friendship dance. (pics to be posted in next article)
There is so much more to this story. I'll be sharing more as I have time to process it. In the meantime, pray for Poplar, Montana.
|Rhydale LeMarr gave about 400 rides around the pen |
before the week was over. An average of 144 kids a day
attended the camp.
|Twins Rider and River were a|
challenge to say the lease. Here
one of the boys can't wait
to get a hug from his
trail boss Rip Copeland
at the first Block Party.
Photos by Nancy Patterson
and Rip Copeland
|Cotton candy at the block party.|
|Block party at the blue church.|
|Teresa Copeland, Olivia DeMuth, Pastor Tracy Wilson, and |
Pastor Woody Key worship at the Blue Church.