Magic of Koeye

I feel lucky to be at the Koeye River again where Heiltsuk youth come every year to take part in culture/science camps. Representing Raincoast, Doug, Kyle, Bryce, and I have come for a week as science resource people and also to learn from the campers and camp staff.

On our first morning, I head towards the lodge for breakfast. The sand ahead of me is decorated with hundreds of small footprints made by a train of young campers. From where I am, the procession looks like a little caterpillar winding its way along the beach. The sound of their laughter blends in with the crashing of waves.

Ecosystem game, photo by Kyle Artelle

After a hearty breakfast prepared by dedicated and hard-working kitchen staff, the campers trek from the lodge back to their camp. There, we play games on the beach designed to explore ecological concepts. In one of the games, shown in the photo below, we use twine to illustrate the complexity of ecosystems and the interconnections among local species. In a game analogous to the teamwork required by a pack of wolves to hunt prey, the campers work together to pick up a bucket using a system of pulleys (second picture).

Wolf teamwork game, photo by Kyle Artelle

Later, the campers will swim and continue playing games on the beach. They will also practice traditional dances in preparation for ‘Feast Day’. The feast is the culmination of the week when campers share what they have learned with friends and family that come to take part in the celebration. As I watch the focus that these young people have for their dances, I am inspired and filled with hope for the future.

For more information on Koeye camps, please visit

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Chris Genovali, executive director of Raincoast Conservation Foundation.
Chris Genovali, Executive Director

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