The Get Happy Summer Day Camp program, operated by the Recreation and Parks Association of Nunavut (RPAN), is already an established part of its annual programming, now in its fifth year.
Another component of that programming had its test run this month and it seemed to be a success.
RPAN rolled out its Just Play Summer Sport Camp as a pilot program with stops in Iglulik, Coral Harbour and Rankin Inlet to see if it would catch on and possibly become a permanent fixture.
Alayna Ningeongan of Rankin Inlet was in charge of making sure everything went as well as it could in all three communities and said it was well-received everywhere they went.
“Everyone really enjoyed themselves,” she said. “Lots of fun and the kids took to everything right away.”
The program featured four different activities over the course of each five-day stop: flag football, disc golf, soccer and traditional games (Arctic sports and Dene games).
Ningeongan said Dene games was something completely new to most of the youth who took part.
“Akpak Duval (of Baker Lake) introduced each game to the kids and told the story behind each one and why it was important,” she said. “Having the (traditional) games combined was better for the kids.”
Flag football was brand new to everyone, she added.
“Some of the kids had never even touched a football before and didn’t know how to throw it,” she said. “We did some warm-ups before they played, such as chasing each other with the flags so they got used to pulling the flag off. They learned how to (snap) the ball, how to throw it and how to receive it. It was a chance to introduce a new sport and once they got the idea, they really enjoyed it.”
The bulk of the funding for this pilot program came through the GN’s Quality For Life Secretariat along with partial funding from the Sport and Recreation Division.
Dawn Currie, RPAN’s executive director, said the plan is to look at what worked in the pilot phase and hopefully make it bigger for the next time.
“We would really love to increase the size of the teams that travel to the communities and the delivery of the program,” she said.
The winter portion of the program will be happening next February with the plan being to visit three communities, she added.
“We really want to make this an ongoing thing through RPAN,” she said.
Ningeongan is hopeful this will become a permanent fixture as well, saying that more support from the communities would be a big help.
“If we get the support from communities for this, it will do well in the long run,” she said. “RPAN does a great job training everyone who does this and the community support will go a long way. If the youth see that the community is supporting it, they’ll come and take part.”