Person County Historical Society met August 22nd
at the Pier 35 Restaurant. The program this month was given by Will Paul, director of the
Sappony Indian Youth Camp. Celebrating the fifth anniversary this year, this camp was held
at Mayo Park for about 25 kids. The ages ranged from rising 4th graders to age
15. The kids came from as far away as Pennsylvania and Georgia.
The idea for the camp came about because they felt that the history and culture was not
being carried on to todays generation as it should be. When he was first asked, he
said no. He had to research his own background to be able to tell the past life
experiences of his ancestors. In doing this, he has developed a bond with more of his
family than he had ever had before. Mr. Paul learned quite a few things from his family
about the way things used to be such as not being able to go to town if the three arrows
There were several areas that they concentrated on teaching the children. The first was
heritage such as tobacco. Tobacco is a source of living as well as a way of life, but, it
was important to also teach the campers about the diseases related to tobacco, awareness
and prevention. The kids even got to see that tobacco growing is a year round process.
They witnessed the tobacco process from the bed preparation to sale at the warehouse.
Another area they covered was diabetes and how to live a healthy lifestyle through
proper snacks and meals. They also let the kids experience belief in God by having a Bible
School. Elders were brought in to tell the history and culture
.working dawn to dusk,
walking everywhere, things that they had to live with when they were growing up. Many
other areas were taught as well such as quilting, CPR instruction, health checks, team
building, and character building. Campers were taken to the cemeteries at Mayo Chapel and
Calvary church. They saw the old stones and inscriptions and were amazed at them. They
also have learned that the Tribal Center is a place to "come home to" for the
kids. They built the bonfire pit from rocks that were gathered from all 7 homeplaces that
represent the 7 surnames of the tribe along with some from Mayo Park.
This year they put on a "Native American Idol" fundraiser show at Bethel Hill
School. Memory books are made each year and the kids enjoy taking them back to camp. For
the quilting project, the elders sat side by side with the campers and showed them how to
put the quilt top together and shared more history and culture with them.
In 2005, a book was put together called Sappony Stories Told. The campers did
all the research and gathered the information from the elders for this project. The first
year that the camp operated they built the Sappony Trail at Mayo Park.
After age 15, the camper can be a counselor in training. There are requirements for
attendance, one being that you have to have a registered Sappony relative. Letters of
recommendation for college attendees are written to attest to their giving back to their
We were very honored to have Mr. Paul and his mother come and share a bit of their
history and culture with our group. The next meeting will be September 26th at