It’s that time of year — fish camp. Thirty years ago on Labor Day we were at fish camp. It snowed. This year we’re not there, but some friends from Kotzebue flew up to spend a week at fish camp with an elder friend. We’re jealous as we listen to their recounts of the week’s experiences. While they were fishing and chopping wood and picking berries and listening to stories of the old days, we were in school.
Fish camp activities center around harvesting food for the winter. Depending on the day, folks might be seining for fish, or checking a set net, or using a rod and reel for sheefish and then preserving the fish by drying.
The time of year, temperature, and kind of fish determine different cutting methods required for drying. Racks and racks of beautifully cut fish hang on lashed wooden poles.
It’s a beautiful time of year, full of meaningful activity. We lament not being able to participate in fish camp and question a school calendar that causes village children to miss out, too.