SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Swarm in partnership with the Minnesota Army National Guard and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa are proud to present the third annual Lax-4-Life Camp, a five-day, four-night lacrosse camp for Native American boys and girls from July 23-27 on the Fond du Lac Reservation. Lax-4-Life is a nationally praised camp that has received recognition from the Obama Administration for its efforts in promoting healthy lifestyle choices for Native American youth.
Supporting partners of the camp include Lax-4-Life co-founder and Minneapolis Police Officer Clint Letch, the Minneapolis Police Department and Dave’s Sport Shop in Fridley.
Together, the partners look at this unique venture as a way to offer a healthy alternative to problems that currently affect Native Communities such as gangs, drugs, suicide, violence, and diabetes. The partners aim to preserve the heritage of the Native’s ancestral game and help restore the tradition of lacrosse to tribal communities.
“Lax-4-Life has had a profound impact on Minnesota’s Native American Community,” said Andy Arlotta, Swarm co-owner and Lax-4-Life co-founder. “We’re looking forward to once again providing campers with an opportunity to develop their lacrosse skills, but more importantly with the chance to build lasting friendships and valuable life skills that they can hold on to for the rest of their lives as well as bring back to their tribal communities. The Swarm is proud to work with the Minnesota Army National Guard and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, two great partners, to ensure that this year’s camp is a success.”
Close to 50 boys and girls from seven tribal communities were present at the camp last year. Tribal Communities that have attended the camp over the past two years include Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Prairie Island Indian Community, Oneida Nation, Little Earth of United Tribes, Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Grand Portage Reservation, and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.
One of the camp’s highlights this year is the week-long presence of the Minnesota Army National Guard, who is the camp’s main sponsor. Members of the Minnesota Army National Guard will be on hand to help mentor campers and will be hosting classroom sessions on resiliency, risk reduction and suicide prevention (R3SP). In addition, the Minnesota Army National Guard has assembled a production team to stream the camp’s final scrimmage online on July 26 in an effort to give family members who will not be in attendance the unique opportunity to watch their relatives showcase their newly developed lacrosse skills.
"The Minnesota Army National Guard is a strong supporter of diversity and we believe that capitalizing on the best each person has to offer starts with empowering today's youth with opportunity, tools and support necessary for personal development and growth. We are very excited about our Native American Lax-4-Life partnership," said Lt. Col. Stephen Burggraff, Commander of Minnesota Army National Guard Recruiting and Retention Battalion.
Campers will receive lacrosse instructions from Swarm team captain and 2012 NLL Transition Player of the Year Andrew Suitor, former NLL forward and current Swarm assistant coach Aime Caines, and Meg Herlofsky, the head coach of Hamline’s Women’s Lacrosse Club.
This year’s camp will once again take place at the Cloquet Community Center and through a partnership with the University of Minnesota, all of the campers lodging fees at school’s Forestry Center have been provided for at no cost.
“Exciting, is the only way that I can best describe this year’s event,” said Bryan “Bear” Bosto, Manager of the Brookston Community Center and Lax-4-Life co-founder. “We continue to provide a door of opportunity to our Native youth with the partnerships that have been created through Lax-4-Life. The University of Minnesota has agreed to a five-year commitment to the camp, and the Minnesota Army National Guard has provided more than what was asked for which is simply amazing.
“This year, we’re excited to have kids that have aged out of the program coming back as junior staff members. This provides them with an opportunity to work with the youth from other reservation communities. Building new friendships and their networks are important components of Lax-4-Life and we also hope campers walk away with a willingness to help others beyond their own reservation communities.”
Earlier this year, Bosto was recognized as a Champion of Change at the White House for his efforts in bringing the traditional Native American sport of lacrosse back to his community. In 2011, Lax-4-Life was honored at the White House during First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move in Indian Country initiative.