LaVonne's Fish Camp

Kotzebue, Alaska

About LaVonne, the Fish Camp, & ACEA

In 1966, LaVonne Hendricks, a young public health nurse, arrived in Northwest Alaska (Kotzebue and Nome). Her kinship with the people and culture of the area deepened over the next 14 years as her work took her to villages in the region.

In 1975, LaVonne accepted an offer from an Inupiaq friend to establish a camp on a Native allotment near Sadie Creek, 5 miles south of Kotzebue on a Chukchi Sea beach. LaVonne’s Fish Camp was born.

In the mid-1980’s, LaVonne’s Fish Camp developed and implemented the Summer Youth Program for Inupiat kids ages 8 to 18. It was initially started to promote a healthy lifestyle for young people. A few years later, the Camp would also serve as the Culture Camp for NANA Regional Corporation’s Tour Arctic program in Kotzebue.

The Youth Program evolved to encompass learning about their native culture, building self-confidence, and zeroing in on suicide prevention. This program complemented Maniilaq’s (the regional health association) Healthy Lifestyle Education Program.

In 1986, Arctic Circle Educational Adventures was created as a non-profit organization under which a variety of programs could be offered at LaVonne’s Fish Camp. Various programs were sponsored by NANA, Kikkiktagruk Inupiat Corporation (KIC), the Northwest Arctic Borough and Chukchi College.

In 1990, one of these sponsored programs encouraged students to create their own oral history project. Native youth interviewed Inupiat elders and other role models. They developed verbal presentation and other communication skills. Self confidence and self esteem increased. The project culminated in the publication of “Walking in Two Worlds,” a traditional and contemporary student oral history. Years later, many participants returned as adults to share how the experience had a positive impact on their lives.