|Participants in the Reindeer Youth Development Camp look at native plants and are accompanied by Brownie, a reindeer owned by Bruce and Ann Davis.|
The Reindeer Research Program hosted its second annual Reindeer Youth Development Camp June 25-30 at the Midnite Sun Reindeer Ranch outside of Nome.
The first camp, held at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, taught animal husbandry, including halter breaking, record keeping, meat cutting and more. Participants formed a 4-H club, the Future Reindeer Herders of Alaska.
Jennifer Robinette, program coordinator with the Reindeer Research Program, said this year’s camp focused on reindeer-related activities, such as orienteering, making rawhide drums, learning about native plants, search and rescue and outdoor survival.
“The idea was for the kids to become more connected to reindeer herding,” she said.
Nine participants from Nome and Anchorage ranged in age from 10 to 17. Some were already members of the 4-H club and others joined. Most came from reindeer-herding families but three were new to the activity, Robinette said. Families also participated.
Kids and adults learned how to prepare hides and bark tanning brews to make rawhide drums out of reindeer skins donated by Bruce and Ann Davis, who own and operate the reindeer ranch. Campers stretched the skin on a frame.
The campers also went on a hike with MaryJane Litchard to learn about native edible plants and medicines that were in season. The Davises’ bottle-raised reindeer, Brownie, followed, teaching the kids about and lichens and plants reindeer need to stay healthy. The kids were also introduced to geocaching and Finnish games. Robinette said the lasso lessons and practice were a big hit with the Future Reindeer Herders.
Robinette thanks Bruce and Ann Davis, who are 2014 graduates of the Northwest Campus’ High-Latitude Range Management Certificate program. They are now learning how to become 4-H resource leaders to pass on their knowledge to the youth who live nearby. She also thanks others who helped make the camp possible, including Bonnie Davis, Jessica Macaraeg, MaryJane Litchard, Pat Hahn, Zir-Paul Macaraeg, Kim Gray, Allison Johnson and Jackie Hrabok-Leppajarvi.