Growing up at fishcamp

File photo

by Madrona Sergie

As I was growing up we used to live at fish camp every summer. First, we would go shopping at Bethel, Alaska and get food for what we need for fish camp and then we would go back to Kwethluk and pack everything we needed.
Then, we would get our stuff ready and bring them down to the boat and everything would be ready to go to fish camp.
We would go and on our way to fish camp we would stop to go check the post office and my dad would tell my brother, “Abraham, go check mail.” Abraham would go check mail. Afterwards, we would start heading to fish camp.
After we make it to fish camp we would unload the boat and bring everything to the house. After unloading the boat my youngest brother Aik would ask my dad, “Dad, can I go swimming?”
And my dad would ask him, “Is the sky blue? Are there grey clouds?”
Aik would say, “Only little bit.”
Then my dad would tell him, “Go swimming, put a life jacket on first.”
Aik would say “Ok,” and tell us “Dad said we can go swimming.”
All of us would get ready to go swimming. The only time we would go swimming is if the sky was blue. As we swam we would play Not-It or just play with mud.
After we swim, we would go play Kick The Can, Annie Annie Over, and when we would play Kick Ball everyone would play. It was the best game we played as a family. All of us would have fun, but we used to call my dad a cheater because he would hold us when we would try to run to the other side after we kicked the ball. It was the funnest game we ever played growing up.
After it gets dark everyone would go inside and my mom would cook food and we would eat and then get ready to go to bed.
The next day my dad and sister would go fishing and they would come back with lots of fish. We helped them bring up the fish to my mom and sister who would cut the fish and I would help them hang the fish.
After we let them dry outside we would put them in the smokehouse and let them smoke. After they’re done smoking we put them in a box and bring them to Kwethluk to put in our refrigerator to save for the winter.
My dad and sister would go fishing more and my mom would cut more for the winter and I would watch my mom cut fish.
At the age of fourteen or fifteen that’s when I learned how to cut fish by watching my mom. I would help my mom and sister cut fish. After we let them dry we would put them in the smokehouse and let them dry again.
We would go boat riding and go pick berries as well, so we could save for the winter. We would go as a family.
Aik didn’t like picking berries – he would whine and my dad would tell him, “Aik, pick berries so mom can make akutaq and so we can save some for winter.”
Aik would listen and start picking berries.
James and Abraham would eat the berries they picked and my mom would say, “Don’t eat the berries.”
James would just smile and start picking and after he picked some he would just sit there and eat the berries. He’s my favorite sibling because he’s so nice and helpful and he listens.
After we pick berries we would go back to fish camp and after we do all that, when it hits August we would pack everything again and go back to Kwethluk to get ready for school. Then school would start.
This is my favorite childhood memory growing up.
Madrona Sergie wrote this narrative as a student at the Kuskokwim Learning Academy.