Camp Spirit Bear

Founded by Cole Matthews

About Camp Spirit Bear

Camp Spirit Bear is a rehab summer camp located in on an island near Drake, Alaska which is not far from Ketchikan. We help troubled people of all ages heal from their past and come to truth over their emotions. Our camp was founded by I, Cole Matthews, once a troubled child. The nature and native ways helped me heal and we strongly believe that your child will change for the better if they are sent here. Hurry up and sign up now! A maximum of five people (not including concilors) will be permitted to attend the camp.

What is the purpose of Camp Spirit Bear?

Camp Spirit Bear is for those who want to heal from their past. After committing a crime, no matter how severe it was, jail will not change a person's ways. We are sure that you want your child to heal and not be stuck with same dangerous motives his/her whole life. camp Spirit Bear will help children control their anger and other emotions through dancing the anger dance, rolling anger down a hill, and clearing minds in a pond. These activities may sound bizarre (I thought they did when I first did them), but they truly help. Camp Spirit Bear can also assist a person in helping someone they hurt. Jail only makes one angrier and deadlier, seeking revenge. My camp will change your child for the better and make him/her learn significant life lessons.

A Note From the Founder

Hi! I'm Cole Matthews. Let me tell you my story. In the beginning, I felt that the whole idea of native healing was a joke. I never actually thought that I could learn from my mistakes. Honestly, I had no compassion towards anything in my life beforenot even my parents. I had a an abusive father who beat me until my clothes could barely hide the scars. I had a mother who didn't raise an eyebrosw at my father's actions. In that house, I felt powerless. That was when I started harrassing some kids at school and committing other crimes. Maybe I did it to get my parents' attention and have them care for me. Maybe I did all those things because I thought I could gain power by intimidating others. They just bailed me out with the truckloads of money they had. I was sent to numerous councilors and therapists, but they only pretended to care for money. I believed I was alone in this treacherous world, that nobody cared about me. It hurt waking up every morning knowing that there was no one in the world that didn't care whether I was alive and dead. It made me mad. I developed severe anger issues.

I completely lost it when a freshmen, Peter Driscal ratted me to a police out for stealing from a store. I smashed his head into a sidewalk and almost killed him. He was left with speech and coordination. At first, even after hearing of Peter's condition, I did not regret my actions. I thought the Circle Justice I chose was just a way to escape from jail. When I was sent to the island, I was intent on escaping. I attempted to and failed miserably. That was when I first spotted the Spirit Bear. It stood proud and tall with a silky, cream coat. "This Spirit Bear didn't have any right to stare at me. It didn't have pride, dignity, and honor like Edwin had said. It was just a mangy animal" (44). I was mad that it was not afraid of me. I thought intimidation meant power. Out of rage, I burned the shelter my parole officer, Garvey, provided me with.

After seeing the Spirit Bear for the third or fourth time, I was fed up. I attacked the creature that was several feet taller than me. As a result, I was mauled. I was injured really, truly badly. To make matters worse, there was a storm. A brutal storm with lightning and buckets of rain. A tree with a nest full of baby sparrows fell down and I thought "Are you okay?" (79). That was the first I actually cared for something besides myself. I also realized that the world was beautiful, every part of it. I started to wonder how much beauty I had destroyed. Garvey and Edwin found me later. I spent months recovering in the hospital. Garvey negociated with the circle and gave me another chance. i was returning to the island. I knew I screwed this up, there was no more. This time I had to build my own cabin, prepare my own food. I was frustrated. Garvey told me, "You still think life's a free ride. You're still blaming the world for all your problems" (160). From then on, I tried harder. Edwin introduced to some Tlingit healing methods before he left the island. He brought me to a freezing pond early in the morning. He told me I could never get rid of my anger, but I could tame it by focusing on happiness. The pond helped clear my mind and choose between happiness and anger. next came the ancestor rock. The Tlingit elder chose a rock and told me that it represented my ancestors. So, i lifted the rock and started up the hill. As I hiked i imagined each step to be a day in my life. Every time I stumbled, I imagined a day in my life where I had stumbled. When I stopped to catch my breath, I looked back and gazed at how far I'd come. Not just from the ground to the top of the hill, but also from smashing Perter Driscal's head into a sidewalk. I had changed. I realied that I didn't want to spend my time locked up in a jail cell. I was a fool before. Things could be different. Finally, when I reached the top of the hill, I rested the rock on the ground. "Slowly I let go of my ancestors and allowed the stone to become my anger. i knew that I had to quit blaming others, including my father, for my problems. As long as blame still existed, so would my anger. I had to let go, the same way I let go of this rock. With that thought, I sank to my knees and placed both hands against the rock. With a grunt, I shoved it down the slope. As the rock tumbled faster and faster, I felt my body growing lighter, and when the rock smashed to a stop at the bottom, I felt as if I could fly" (166). I danced animal dances and learned from the creatures surrounding me. I even made my own totem representing my story. I carved an animal for each of the events in my life.

Once I had danced the anger dance, something that taught me to forgive, I thought I had healed. When I went to illustrate my healing on the totem, I couldn't think of anything to carve. That was when it occurred to me that I had not healed yet. The only way to heal was to help Peter. I heard news from Edwin that Peter had tried to committ suicide twice. I convinced Edwin to get Peter to come to the island. Peter and I stayed on the island under the supervision of Garvey. Peter refused to talk to me for a while. He even shoved me and destroyed part of my totem. I pleaded with him. He started to talk to me―mostly snarky comments, but it was better than nothing. A while later, he suggested that he and I go to the pond to soak alone without Garvey. I told him I was glad we could finally be friends. In response, he told me we could never be friends and he would never forgive me. I meant him no harm and I would never hurt him again. He started to assault me, but I didn't fight back. I had to show him that he could trust me. I couldn't let my anger get the better of me now. Finally, he stopped kicking and started sobbing. he admitted he was scared and i comforted him. When he was sobbing in my arms, the Spirit Bear appeared. I took this as a sign that Peter and i were finally friends and that I healed for the most parts. I could never recover fully from what I did to Peter, but I came the farthest I could. After all, the Spirit Bear was the whole reason I started to change, so it would only be fitting to see it after I had become a new, different person.

The Evironmental Aspects of Camp

Inspiration For This Camp

As you all know, I was a delinquent, but then I was sent to an island to heal. Before returning to the island after months of physical healing in the hospital, Garvey told me the reason he helped me was because when he was younger, he did things he was not proud of. Helping me and others assisted Garvey in healing. Helping Peter made me heal. I felt like nothing I did could make me fully, truly heal. So, to help others who are like who I used to be, I founded this camp. The Tlingit ways helped Peter and I heal, so why should not it work on others, too? Not only do other children recover from their past and heal, but I also heal by opening a camp that helps others. Garney and Edwin's native traditions inspired this rehabilation camp, especially since soaking, carrying the rock, carving, and dancing helped me heal. This is my chance to help more than just Peter Driscal. This is my chance to change the world and make up for all the beautiful things that I destroyed.

The reason I built this camp was to recover from my past and use the native healing ways on others. Jail doesn't heal the soul, but native traditions do. The Tlingit traditions helped me evolve from an pugnatious, belligerent teenager to a much more tranquil, educated person. If these strategies coud help me, then why couldn't it help others? The soaking pond helped me clear my head and find calmness. "When I breathed again, I noticed that my breaths had cooled as if I was sucking on a menthol cough drop. I also noticed that in the water, my joints didn't ache, nor did I feel ain in my blistered hands. My few thoughts seemed distant from my body. The cold water somehow suspended my whole existence" (164). I was relieved of my pain and past while soaking in the pond. I know that the water will make others feel the same way as it worked on Peter, Garvey, Edwin, and I. "Being alone is what made this place [the soaking pond] so special" (174). This will not be an issue for campers, as the island is vast and holds several ponds.

For cantankerous campers, rolling away all the bottled up anger will be good. I myself used to be someone who let their hatred and anger towards the world and their parents show to any stranger. When Edwin showed me to pretend the rock was my anger and roll in down the hill away from me, I felt lighter without all the fury radiated through my skin. One day, I adnitted to the two Tlingit Indians, "'When I was carrying the rock this morning, I realized that I won't ever get over my anger unless I quit blaming others for everything...I just realized that I'm not a bad person. Nobody is. People are just scared and do bad things. Sometimes people hurt each other trying to figure things out...I hate what Dad does to me but must be just as scared as I am. He doesn't want to be mean; he just doesn' know any better'" (167-168). it was important that I realized this because it helped me get rid of my anger. If the campers learn this about themselves, then they will know that they can change and they were never a bad person. Certain events in their life might have caused them to make bad, impulsive decisions. This will give them self-confidence and esteem, giving them the power to change. Overall, I was inspired to create this camp since I was eager to share the Tlingit ways of healing with others, as helping campers can heal me from my bad decisions and campers will change like I did.

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