Summer Camp For Newcomers to Canada

Summer Camp For Newcomers to Canada
Posted on 07/13/2023
Sunshine graphicA unique summer camp experience is underway in Barrie, catering specifically to newcomers to Canada. The camp was developed in response to the growing number of immigrant families arriving in our area. Recognizing the need for additional support beyond school programs, the board secured funding from the provincial government to launch this wonderful initiative.

Christine Mink-Hiles, the coordinator of adult, continuing, and community education as well as languages at the school board, expressed the importance of making new families feel welcome and comfortable in the community. “Many of these families have experienced significant hardships and trauma prior to their arrival in Canada. While existing programs within schools help integrate newcomers, the camp aims to provide a more comprehensive experience, fostering familiarity with the community.”

Up to 30 participants have enjoyed their two-week camp experience. Students from Grades 6 - 12 have embarked on a journey through the city of Barrie, explored various landmarks and interacted with local residents to gain a deeper understanding of their new surroundings.

The group also had the opportunity to meet Christina Mancuso, the education officer at the Maclaren Art Centre, who provided an introduction to contemporary art. Mancuso showcased various exhibits, including photography, abstract paintings, and digital drawings, offering the newcomers a first-time experience of the Barrie art gallery.

The two-week program operates out of St. Joseph’s Catholic High School. On Mondays and Fridays, the participants engage in online activities to enhance their digital skills and familiarize themselves with the virtual world. The remaining weekdays are dedicated to field trips around the region. Students have explored the Ardagh Bluffs, visited the courthouse, and met officials at city hall. Barrie Mayor Alex Nuttall welcomed everyone and shared his memories of being a student at St. Peter’s Catholic Secondary School.

The primary goal of the program, according to Mink-Hiles, is to facilitate the newcomers' integration into their new community and ensure their comfort in their new surroundings. By providing hands-on experiences and promoting cultural understanding, this popular day camp aims to ease the transition for these families and foster a sense of belonging in their new home.

Click here to link to the CTV Barrie news story that aired July 12.