Several communities in Nunavut will be able to answer the question that will come from youth during summer: what can we do?

The fourth edition of the Get Happy Summer Day Camp program, run by the Recreation and Parks Association of Nunavut (RPAN), gets going in a majority of the communities that are operating it this summer today, June 25. More than 60 youth from 14 different communities around the territory converged on Iqaluit from June 11 to 15 for a week’s worth of training in what’s involved with the program.

Corey Qavvik of Kugaaruk leads her partner around the course in an inclusion activity as part of the Get Happy Summer Day Camp training sessions in Iqaluit on June 12. photo courtesy of RPAN

Sanikiluaq and Kimmirut are two communities that are hosting the program for the first time this year while Pond Inlet and Pangnirtung are returning after a one-year absence.

Dawn Currie, RPAN’s executive director, said some communities got a head start and started on June 18.

“I suggested everyone start on June 25 because that gave them time to do the inventory and figure out what they have and take the time to set up,” she said. “Some obviously went ahead but most are getting ready now.”

The day camp is geared to run for six weeks in each community although Currie said some have done it for four or five weeks.

She estimates 2,500 youth around the territory will be taking part in the camps.

Putting everything together is an expensive venture but it appears several public and private groups think the program has some worth and have put hundreds of thousands of dollars behind the program to help sustain it for the near future.

The Jays Care Foundation, the charitable arm of the Toronto Blue Jays, returned as a sponsor this year and provided the program with $80,000 in funding and equipment to help outfit each community. The donation included T-shirts, bats, balls, gloves and bases and two staff that flew up to Iqaluit from Toronto to help with the training.

“Having them send staff was a new thing this year,” said Currie.

One Ocean Expeditions, which has several stops on Baffin Island during its voyages, has begun its four-year partnership with RPAN and also provided funding for training this year. Some of that money was raised through passengers who travel on their vessels and when the ships dock in Pond Inlet this summer, they will get a chance to see the program up close and personal.

“The campers and leaders will get a chance to interact with passengers and give them a chance to see where the money they give is going to,” said Currie.

There was also a mention in the legislative assembly from Lorne Kusugak, the minister of Community and Government Services, about the program for the first time on June 8 and he also paid a visit to the training sessions on June 12, right before the vote of non-confidence that removed Paul Quassa from his role as premier.

Altogether, it’s roughly a $350,000 partnership when everything is added up, said Currie, and it’s important that it continues.

“Without all of the inter-agency help, we can’t do this every year,” she said.

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