Would you like to explore your interests and hobbies or discover new ones? Are you interested in developing new friendships, growing your community circle and sharing your culture? Would you like to see what life is like off the reservation? Then this program is for you!
The Lakota YouthStay Program invites youth, ages 10 – 15 yrs old, from the Pine Ridge reservation to apply for an ten-day (2 travel days/8 days on site) trip to the Boston area to explore and engage in a variety of meaningful activities of interest to YOU!
Lakota YouthStay 2023 is tentatively scheduled for July 11 – 20, 2023.
What You Give
As a participant in the Lakota YouthStay Program, you will have an opportunity to share your culture, history and heritage with people who are interested in learning more about you, your family and your life. An open mind and heart along with a sense of adventure, curiosity about the world and a willingness to experience and engage in all activities will ensure a happy and successful week.
In addition, Lakota YouthStay participants will:
- Be open to trying new things;
- Participate in pre and post-trip activities and get-togethers;
- Share their experience with other young people at school and in your community upon return to the reservation;
- Complete a post-trip survey with suggestions and/or recommendations for future trips;
- Make a commitment to the Youth Applicant Covenant
The application is our way of learning about you. There are two main parts: one is personal information that you can fill out on your own or with the help of your parent(s), grandparent(s), guardian or teacher; the other involves asking people who know you well, like your teacher or family friend, to provide references for you. The application can take some time so we suggest giving yourself at least 2 – 3 weeks to complete it.
Recommendations for a Successful YouthStay
- Be open to new experiences and people
- Be willing to share your personal story, way of life, culture, tribal history and/or language with your hosts and those you feel comfortable with during your visit
- Participate in all YouthStay group activities
- Ask questions. Be curious.
- Respect your own comfort level and communicate your level of comfort/discomfort to the hosts and others you meet
- Respect the host’s wishes. Talk with hosts about daily routines, use of electronics, food choices, etc.
- Limit time texting, emailing and watching TV. Engage with those around you
- Consider keeping a journal or log so you that you can remember your experiences
- Savor this special opportunity!
What You Get
If you are accepted into the Lakota YouthStay program, you can expect to receive the following:
- airfare to/from Boston, ground transportation in Boston, housing, most meals while in Boston and the costs of all group experiences are covered. You will be responsible for minor incidentals (souvenirs, snacks, meals while traveling to Boston, an occasional meal out while in Boston, gifts, etc.);
- a safe and secure home with hosts who will welcome you into their family and who are interested in you and in learning about Native American culture and your day-to-day life;
- daily, planned group activities based on the interests of YOU and the other youth in the program group;
- an opportunity to develop new friendships with other youth from Pine Ridge as well as youth and adults from the greater Boston area.
Where will my youth live during the YouthStay program week?
Lakota youth will stay in a secure, comfortable, welcoming home with volunteer hosts. It may be a separate bedroom or a room shared with a youth of the same gender and approximately the same age. Bathrooms are likely to be shared with other members of the household. Your child will be supervised by an adult at all times. Our hosts are required to participate in a thorough screening process, including a home visit by our team, references, criminal/SOR background checks for all adults and must be fully vaccinated/boosted.
What are the meal arrangements for my youth?
The hosts will provide daily breakfasts, packed lunches and approximately five dinners. Three dinners will be provided as part of the group activities planned during the YouthStay program. There may be an occasional meal out which will be the responsibility of the youth unless freely offered by the host or LYS staff. Meals while traveling to Boston are the sole responsibility of the youth/youth family. Youth will be provided with a packed lunch/snacks for the flight back to SD. Youth may find that food choices/diets may be different that what they are accustom to at home. It is, however, a great opportunity to try new foods!
Will I be able to contact my youth during the YouthStay week?
Yes! Hosts and YouthStay contact information will be provided to you. If your youth has a cell phone, they may bring it with them, however, use of cell phones and access to social media during daytime YouthStay activities will be restricted so that youth can focus on participating in scheduled activities and engagement with others.
What are the behavioral expectations?
In addition to the specific expectations identified in the Youth Covenant, youth must agree to abide by the basic rule of behavior – treat others as you would like others to treat you. YouthStay hosts, staff and youth are expected to treat each other with respect and to participate fully in YouthStay activities. This program involves living and engaging with people from different cultures, backgrounds and world views. Challenging situations may arise and the expectation is that communication will be open and supportive. It is expected that all YouthStay participants will have the desire to embrace challenges and differences in order to grow and learn from them.
Are there any items that my youth should not bring?
Do not bring computers, tablets, IPads or electronic devices other than a cell phone. All dangerous items such as guns, knives or other weapons are strictly forbidden. Illegal items are, of course, not allowed.
What Covid precautions are required?
Lakota YouthStay follows all CDC, federal, state and local health recommendations and mandates. We expect hosts, household members, youth guests and volunteers to be fully vaccinated and boosted per CDC guidelines for their age group and show proof of vaccination prior to the start of the YouthStay program. All participants will be required to read/sign our Covid policy. If anyone shows Covid-related signs/symptoms immediately prior to or during the YouthStay program, they will be asked to test for Covid. If testing is positive, they will be required to quarantine for the CDC recommended # of days.
Apply to Lakota YouthStay Program
March 6 – Preliminary review and selection
April 3 – Advisory team endorsement and reference checks
May 5 – Final selection of YouthStay participants
PLEASE NOTE: YOUR APPLICATION IS NOT CONSIDERED COMPLETE UNTIL ALL FIVE PARTS HAVE BEEN SUBMITTED