Ihanktonwan Learning Camp

Ihanktonwan Learning Camp logoJuly 10 – 13, 2023 Camp dates
July 8 – 15, 2023Volunteer dates including travel

About the Camp

The Ihanktonwan Learning Camp was initiated in 2010 as a partnership between the First Presbyterian Church of Cumberland and the Cedar and Greenwood Churches, Native American Presbyterian Churches located in southeastern South Dakota. It is held in Marty, South Dakota.

The mission is to provide basic educational opportunities for one week, in the middle of the summer, as a way to encourage the students to return to school in the fall with a renewed interest in learning and continuing their studies. We try to give the children a sense of encouragement, love, and affirmation. In addition, we have been asked by our partners to include spiritual teaching, which will be overseen by our native partners. We are also inviting local native community members to share their knowledge about Dakota traditions. We are welcoming local counselors to speak with the children about problems they may face like bullying, addiction and depression. We come not just to teach but to learn.

Camp dates for volunteers includes a field trip day to visit surrounding historic and beautiful areas. The locations are chosen by the volunteers.

Camp Format

There will be at least two volunteers teaching each class. The children remain with their teachers throughout the day from 8 AM to 2 PM Monday through Thursday. Classes range from Pre-K through 7th grade. Children are assigned to the class level that they have just completed. Instruction is provided in several areas including math and reading in a fun setting. Music, Art and Science are available as well. Every effort is made to keep the children and staff active and engaged. Children are encouraged to take home free books every day.

Opportunities for Building Fellowship and Mutual UnderstandingPlaying on the Marty Indian School playground

There are several opportunities to get to know our Dakota Presbytery and Marty community partners during the week. We start by worshiping and sharing fellowship at the historic Cedar or Greenwood Church on the first Sunday we are there. We sing hymns in Dakota from the hymnal “Dakota Odowan”.

Members of the community are invited to join us for evening meals and to help with the children during the week. We plan spiritual learning and sharing among our volunteers and members of the Ihanktonwan community during the week.

Volunteer Requirements

Camp staff must have finished 8th grade by the end of the school year. Special exceptions MAY be made for mature younger volunteers accompanied by a close relative. We are seeking high school and college students, and adults of all ages.

 Some background with children is helpful as camp staff members need to be comfortable around children and interested in forming relationships with the children.

The experience is supported by the Presbyterian Church but church membership is not required. The participation fee can be offset though participation in fundraising opportunities. Presbyterian youth have access to additional monies through the Turner Youth Scholarship.


Staff members will be given pre-camp training so that each staff member feels prepared to be a part of the camp. Training will include information about cultural diversity, child abuse, and relationship building. For training dates, see below.

Accommodations and Transportation

Volunteers will stay in the Fort Randall Casino Hotel, 7 miles from Marty. Meals are provided during the week. Volunteers should bring spending money for food and souvenirs during the camp and on travel days. The amount recommended is $75 to $100. An ATM is available in a nearby town.

Opportunities for Learning, Travel, and Fun

Various field trip opportunities are available for volunteers. We try to attend one powwow during the week. One day (the Friday at the end of the week) is devoted to a field trip of some kind or exploration of the local area. We learn about the rich history and culture of the Ihanktonwan (Yankton Sioux) tribe. Some may choose to go to the Badlands or the Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse monuments. Volunteers can choose together how they want to spend their last day before leaving South Dakota.

There will be 2 Informational Meetings at FPC Cumberland at 11 Washington Street.
All are invited!!

Calendar of Events (most will include a virtual option)

  • Information Meeting: Sunday, March 12, 12:30 PM @ First Presbyterian Church, Cumberland Dakota Room
  • Virtual Information Meeting: Contact Rev. Alison Peters: revalisonpeters@gmail.com
  • Application Deadline: April 1
  • New Staff Interviews: TBD
  • Mandatory Training 1: Saturday, May 20, 10-2 PM @ First Presbyterian Church, Cumberland Fellowship Hall/Dakota Room (lunch to be provided)
  • Mandatory Training 2: Sunday, June 11, 1-5 PM @ First Presbyterian Church, Cumberland Fellowship Hall/Dakota Room
  • Flight to South Dakota: Saturday July 8, and return July 15

Contact Information

Rev. Alison Peters, Ihanktonwan Learning Camp Co-Director

Aaron Hendrickson, Ihanktonwan Learning Camp Co-Director

Apply Now