Dickinson Ukrainian Camp Helps Keep Tradition Alive

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The annual Ukrainian Camp in Dickinson started this week, and is open to campers of all ages and backgrounds.

"You don't have to be Ukrainian to be a Ukrainian for these two weeks," said Karin Malkowski Stende, camp director.

She says Ukrainian dance, art, and history are several areas campers explore during camp. It is all about preserving a heritage in Dickinson.

"Come home, you know, most of us when we first started were people who grew up here," said Malkowski Stende. "And we danced as youngsters."

Campers and instructors travel to Dickinson from all across the country for camp. Many come back year after year.

"I have been coming to camp since I was 5 years old," said Hannah Nameniuk, art director.

Nameniuk was once a camper. She travels from out of state for the experience where she says she met her best friend.

"Everybody's comfortable with each other, and especially as you get older, you have been around everybody for so long that you just feel at home," Nameniuk said.

Every year campers look forward to a unique tradition.

"When they turn 13 they participate in the right of passage ceremony," Malkowski Stende said. "And that is where they are ready to graduate into young adulthood."

Camper Sean Ross will take part in the ceremony this summer. He has also been practicing his steps for the camp's dance performance.

"When people go to the show they don't know how much work and effort we have been putting into it," Ross said.

The experience ends with campers sharing their Ukrainian dances and songs at the Ukrainian Festival. Through this, they help keep a tradition in Dickinson alive.