Camp Laugh A Lot is a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to providing active outdoors nature-study and animal-related learning opportunities for Native youth from economically impoverished Reservations where a disconnect has often happened between people and the natural environment, and where, despite strong historical cultural connections with nature and animals, present day human-animal and nature connections and care has suffered.
Camp Laugh A Lot helps reconnect Native youth to nature and enhances awareness and compassion for animals. Accompanying youth by providing them with fun and educational outdoor nature and animal study opportunities throughout their school years, we help to prepare the next generation to assume leadership responsibilities in animal care and environment-related fields. In this way, Camp strives to impact not only individuals, but also the societies in which we live, bringing about positive change in the relationship we as humans have with animals and with our environment. There is no cost to go to Camp Laugh A Lot, but we believe it is important for young people to learn the concept of earning something, and we believe BIG TIME in child literacy. That's why youth earn their way to go to camp by earning the "Reading with Animals" badge.
Our effort began - and is still primarily focused on - the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, home of the Oglala Lakota people, and one of the most naturally beautiful, but also one of the most economically impoverished, places in the United States. Native youth who may not otherwise have the opportunity to spend time in the Black Hills (the ancestral sacred land of the Lakota but no longer part of the Reservation), benefit from the nurturing environment at Camp while engaging in fun, active times outdoors, nature study and appreciation, learning indigenous and other knowledge about the natural world, enhancing awareness and compassion for animals (both domestic and wild), building positive relations with others (of all species), and understanding that every individual has something special to give, and that everyone can and does make a difference. The difference we make as individuals in our world can be a positive one. Camp is one step in that direction!
We strive to impact not only individuals, but also the societies in which we live, bringing about positive change in the relationship we as humans have with animals and with nature.
Our mission is to reconnect Native youth to nature and to enhance awareness and compassion for animals -- to live as the Lakota and other cultures teach, with respect for all our relations.
Our vision is that within the next 10 years, every child on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and other Reservations throughout South Dakota and the region, will have the opportunity to experience carefree days full of fun, learning, and adventure at Camp. We will have the resources to invite more campers every year and will have the capacity to support youth in the journey through and beyond school as some become Camp Counselors and Directors and others leaders in environmental and conservation fields. Camp will be a summer-long experience instead of short camp sessions offered periodically through the summer. Camp Laugh A Lot will have land in the Black Hills on which to establish a permanent Camp. Child literacy rates on Tribal lands will improve, and youth will be inspired to read and write for their own wellbeing as well as that of the communities of which they are a part.
We are committed to ensuring that every child on the Pine Ridge Reservation will have the opportunity to experience carefree days full of fun and adventure at Camp at least once in their lifetime, and hopefully for their entire lifetime. We are committed to ensuring that Native youth have ample opportunities to spend time with others in nature and with animals, building relationships of respect and forming a foundation that will enable those who wish to, to pursue careers in conservation, outdoor recreation, or animal care. We are committed to partnering with Reservation schools to enhance literacy, supporting schools in teaching youth to read by providing incentives that motivate them to actually read.
Camp Laugh A Lot began as an all-volunteer effort in the 1990's. It was legally established as a non-profit 501 (c)(3) corporation in the State of South Dakota in February, 2007. We are still tiny and have no paid permanent staff. Depending on available resources, we typically invite between 100 and 150 youth, ages 7 to 13, to Camp every summer for short 2-3 day sessions. There are many more children who want to come to Camp each summer who are denied the opportunity because of lack of resources to pay campsite, food, transportation and other costs.
We need your support to allow us to invite many more youth to Camp (free of charge to campers) and to provide the necessary resources which allow for long-term individual accompaniment of campers to ensure greatest impact.
Meet our all-volunteer Board of Directors and Officers.