"Let's take the whole eighth grade and go on a three-day camp out!" In most school districts, a teacher who uttered such a thought out loud would likely be sending out resumes in a very short time. However, a group of teachers from the Kamiah, Idaho, Middle School, came up with just such an idea and have made it an annual event. For those of you not familiar with the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Kamiah is near where the Corps of Discovery met members of the Nez Perce Tribe on their westward journey. The next year, when snow still blocked their passage eastward over the Continental Divide, the expedition spent five weeks at Long Camp with the Nez Perce Indians.
Going on its fifth year, the eight grade undertakes a yearlong class project studying the Lewis and Clark Expedition that culminates with a three day camp-out at Musselshell Meadows. Then, as now, the students from two different cultures learn from and about each other. During the day, the students rotate in groups between various stations where they learn such things as tribal customs and culture from Nez Perce elders, to botany, forestry, map-making, and wildlife management, taught by land management and industry volunteers.
The first evening, I, and a couple of former clinic students, cook a Dutch oven meal of stew, cornbread, and dessert, a meal similar to what the Lewis and Clark Expedition might have eaten after leaving St. Louis while they still had cornmeal. With the entire class gathered around the camp kitchen, I give them a short course in camp cooking, from past to present. The second evening, tribal members prepare a traditional meal of grilled salmon and Indian Fry Bread, for not only the students and staff, but also for parents who drive up after work. This meal is followed by a performance put on by tribal dancers. With only the moon and stars lighting Musselshell Meadows, it is indeed a delightful and unique dining experience!
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