I have attended various virtual camps and events during the pandemic including THRIVE, WE R NATIVE Springboard Lab, UNITY United National Indian Tribal Youth Inc., Generation Indigenous Ways, Native American Youth Entrepreneurship Camp and Wichita Tribe Native Connections Culture Classes to name a few. A great thing about some of these camps was that youth could win gift cards and swag. For one event, I was even compensated. Since I am only fourteen getting paid was a BONUS! My favorite event was the THRIVE camp which had many different focus areas. In this camp, I got to make digital beats, compete in Indigenous trivia competitions, and make art with Steven Paul Judd! In addition to the fun aspect of the events, I also learned about culture, prescription drugs, and prevention. I was also able to share my culture, give my opinions, and input on major issues affecting Indian Country and the world. With UNITY we discussed the Black Lives Matter movement and how Indigenous people can be allies, mental health, and pride in who we are. One of the highlights of my virtual summer was wining 3rd place in the Native American Youth Entrepreneurship Business Plan Competition during UNITY’s Virtual Conference. I was one of the youngest participants so I wasn’t sure I had a chance but, with my food truck idea I was able to share my vision and pull out a win.
Through these events, I learned that attending online can be fun but, it does come with some setbacks too. Many of the virtual events had technical difficulties but nonetheless we were able to learn and work together. I enjoyed myself in all of the virtual events but I did not like how unorganized some of them were. That is what actually determined my least favorite event, it was not well organized and it did not seem like those putting on the event really understood the technology. That made it difficult to learn and receive the messages they wanted to get across to youth. The biggest struggles, I believe while ZOOM-ing in are talking while others are talking, internet connections and audio lagging. Overall, I enjoyed attending all of the online events but I would prefer to do them in person.
For adults planning virtual events for youth I would recommend:
1) Know your technology
2) Make it interactive and fun
3) Use platforms youth like (Instagram, TikTock, Snapchat)
4) Be organized
Wichita, Kiowa, Caddo