Every year at the informant’s summer camp:

Alawatchakeema and his family would supposedly travel all the way across the great lakes to New York. There was a big ceremony, a fire was lit in the center of the camp. People would come out of the forest representing the spirits of the earth, fire, wind, and water. One would zipline down from the trees to create the illusion that he was flying.

To figure out where Big Al was, the whole camp would have to chant his full name in a low rumble. The head of camp would then tell you where Big Al was spotted.

Once Alawatchakeema got there, he selected kids for challenges. The challenges were: no talking, no eating, sleeping under the stars, and the triple whammy (all three).

Each of the challenges lasted for 1 Day.


The informant was inducted into this tradition at one of his childhood summer camps, and one year was chosen for the “sleeping under the stars” challenge, which he expressed was meant for “kids who spent a lot of time inside”. He went on to inform me that the tradition is no longer being practiced because of the realization that it was insensitive towards Native American cultures.


This sounds to me like a high-energy event which the entire camp could participate in, either as an actor or a viewer, and build a community around. The challenges are very interesting to me because they are both a rite of passage (the informant expressed that he looks back very fondly on his experience of Sleeping Under the Stars) and a call-out of any negative behavior that the camper may be displaying.