Sama Sama Cooperative Summer Camp

I arrive on a day when the kids are learning about the Filipina revolutionary hero Gabriela Silang, making pinakbet, a vegetable stew, and getting familiar with the Tagalog words for emotions and feelings. I come to the Lakeshore United Methodist Church community center to find a group of kids chopping up vegetables with their instructor, chef and farmer Aileen Suzara.

Sama means “together” in Tagalog, and Sama Sama Cooperative Summer Camp is a day camp for children ranging from 5 to 11 years old, founded and collectively run by parents to educate their children in Filipino language, culture, arts, and ecology.

The camp instructors employ hands-on learning, focused on language and cultural arts, movement, and music, in the context of Filipino identity in the Philippines and in the United States.

“We wanted cultural education,” says Lisa Juachon, one of the camp’s founding mamas. “As a young person your world view widens outside your family when you enter elementary school, and we want to see ourselves reflected in our education. We want for our kids to see their culture not just at home. To see culture passed down in community.”

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