As summer comes to a close around the territory, that means all of the programming centred around it begins to come to an end.

That includes the Get Happy Summer Day Camp program, operated by the Recreation and Parks Association of Nunavut (RPAN). Almost all of the communities that took part in this year’s edition closed up shop on Aug. 6 with Baker Lake wrapping things up on Aug. 13. The only community still going is Sanikiluaq — its final day will be on Aug. 20.

Dawn Currie MacKinnon, RPAN’s executive director, said every community did a wonderful job.

“Sanikiluaq and Taloyoak have always been two of our strongest communities, Kugaaruk did a great job this year,” she said. “Kimmirut was a great community, really strong for their first year. We were a bit nervous because they only contacted us in late May and asked if they could register. No one there had done the training before but we wanted to give them a chance and we sent them what we could. They proved they belong.”

Just like last year, the program had to operate under distancing and capacity guidelines set out by the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer.

That didn’t stop some communities from getting creative about how to best use the space they had, said Currie MacKinnon.

“In a lot of places, we could only have 25 people in one indoor space at one time,” she said. “For example, Baker Lake hired some extra staff so they could have four groups of 25 and they were in different places all the time. Pond Inlet did 25 kids in the morning and 25 in the afternoon and Kimmirut did the same. A lot of communities did the morning/afternoon split so they could have as many kids taking part as possible.”

Many communities hosted barbecues on the final day of programming, she added, and RPAN helped out with that expense.

“We gave a bit of extra help to communities for anything they needed for the end of the year, whatever they wanted to do, and we reimbursed them for the cost,” she said.

In addition to the programming, there was the Summer Day Camp Challenge which saw the communities do battle in a series of events, such as Inuit games and a scavenger hunt, over the course of the program. Each community would earn points toward a final total with the top community winning a banner and a cash prize.

This year saw Sanikiluaq and Pond Inlet end up tied for first place, meaning they will each get a banner, while Kimmirut and Taloyoak tied for third place.

Currie MacKinnon said when it comes to the financials, each of those four communities will get an equal share of the pot.

“They all did a great job and the decision was made to give them $4,000 each,” she said. “That money is for the community to put toward youth and recreation programming and there are no restrictions on what they can use it on – they just have to use it for youth and recreation in some way.”

As the focus for RPAN now turns to fall and winter programming, Currie MacKinnon said the plan is to get back to in-person training, which would signal that things are getting back to normal.

“We’re just lucky we don’t run tournaments,” she said. “We have great young leaders in our communities who are committed to the programs that we do and without them, we can’t do it.”

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