Uncle Karno has held youth camps on Kangaroo Island since 2008 . One of the camps that had the most profound impact on young people was the one he held in conjunction with Uncle Peter that was co-ordinated by one of our committee members Nick Leidig.
About 12-13 years ago, Nick Leidig, one of our comittee members was employed by the Kururru Youth Program to help run a boys program, Uncle Karno took an interest in what this program was doing. Especially in regards to dealing with young boys at risk.
This was around the time when there was a lot of talk in the mainstream media about the “Gang of 49” youths crime wave, a crime wave that has since been debunked. This youth camp was one of a few that where run by the Kururru Youth program for the youths miscorrectly identified as being members of this fictitious gang. This ABC news YouTube video on the left goes on to expose how the mainstream media invented the “Gang of 49” to drive ratings and newspaper sales.
Uncle Karno invited Nick and his fellow staff members to hold their camps on Kangaroo island, so youth could experience first hand Ramindjeri culture, as well as the team building exercises that were normally part of these camps. These camps where held near Murray lagoon, not far from Uncle Karno’s home, Wulde Wairri. Another Elder, and close friend of Uncle Karno, Uncle Peter Mansfield co-hosted this camp. The age of the children that took part in the camp ranged from 10 to 19 years of age.
The Aboriginal youth camp that was hosted by uncle Karno was funded by Kurruru Indigenous Youth Performing Arts. The camps were part of the Binnanendi boys youth program – “Binnanendi” is a Kaurna word meaning “journey into manhood”. The Binnanendi Youth camps were run by staff from the Kururru Youth Program, the Youth in this program had been identified as at risk youth. It is also important to repeat again that the “Gang of 49” where a fiction created by the mainstream media that was applied as an umbrella term for repeat offenders in general and was created as a sensational title to sell newspapers and drive ratings.
The positive effect of these camps on the youth who wen to these camps cannot be underestimated . There were two youths in particular that where at risk who went on to become AFL Football players and upstanding members of their communities. The feedback Nick has had from the other Youth who went to these camps was also overwhelmingly positive.
One of the fondest memories Nick and other participants had of the Youth camps were how Uncle Karno greeted them when they were debarking the Kangaroo Island ferry. Their first sight was this elder in full tribal dress and paint, standing as still as a statue until they had debarked, and then warmly greeting all of them. Nick said Uncle Karno made the youth feel so welcome that you could see the joy and wonder in their eyes. This was a welcome to country that many of these youths had never seen before, and Uncle Karno made them feel that they were important, and that this welcome was just for them.