'The kids will have fun': Day camp leadership program draws 60 youth to Cambridge Bay

A week-long workshop in Cambridge Bay has equipped youth leaders to run day camps for up to 1,500 young people in 11 Nunavut communities.

'I’ve learned a lot of fun activities to bring back to Kugaaruk,' says Loranda Qirngnuq, 20

May Ningeongan, Loranda Qirngnuq, Donovan Niptanatiak, Leetia Kalluk and Maiya Nattuk all took part in a week-long workshop in Cambridge Bay. (Jana Angulalik/CBC)

Sixty young people from 11 communities from across Nunavut enjoyed a unique week of fun and learning in Cambridge Bay — that could soon reach many, many more.

The Recreation and Parks Association of Nunavut held a day camp leadership workshop last week. The idea is to prepare youth to run day camp programs in their home communities.

"I've learned a lot of fun activities to bring back to Kugaaruk," said Loranda Qirngnuq, 20.

The workshop has equipped the leaders to reach an expected 1,500 youth across the 11 communities.

'The kids will have fun'

For some communities, this summer will be the first the youth see a day camp program.

"Our community hall will be closed for the summer, so there won't be much to do but we're really excited that we will get to run a day camp," said Maiya Nattuk, 16, of Hall Beach.

"The kids will have fun."

The day camp project began three years ago, reaching only five communities. This year, with youth from 11 communities taking part, excitement is heightened.

Participants in a Cambridge Bay leadership preparation camp. (Jana Angulalik/CBC)

It's also the first year of the program that all three regions of Nunavut have participated.

May Ningeongan and Ija Pameolik, both 20 years old from Coral Harbour, were the only two from the Kivalliq region.

"Our recreation coordinator at the hamlet worked really hard to get us here," said Ningeongan.

"It was hard finding funding for our flights. We'd love it if the Kivalliq Inuit Association would reach out and help fund programs like this one because it really helps us to help our community."

Keeping youth 'happy, positive and busy'

Dawn Currie, executive director of the Recreation and Parks Association of Nunavut, is passionate about these kinds of programs, partly because even though she now lives in Ontario, she keeps the North in her heart having once lived in Cambridge Bay.

Speaking to youth over a barbecue dinner, she gave thanks to the funders who made the project happen.  

"Without the support of our partners who believe in what we're doing and who believe in the youth, this just wouldn't happen."

The Kitikmeot Inuit Association was the biggest partner in this year's program.

Another special partner that made this year's program unique was The Jays Care Foundation who took lead in some of the activities throughout the week and brought Blue Jays memorabilia for the youth to take home.

"The Blue Jays Care Foundation taught us about how to fill the kids' emotional tanks," said Donovan Niptanatiak, age 16, of Kugluktuk.

"That involves keeping them happy, positive and busy."


Jana Angulalik is a freelance contributor. She grew up in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, and has lived in faraway places like Indonesia and Australia. An Arctic Indigenous Fund adviser, esthetician, and a traditional Inuit tattoo artist are a few roles she's honoured to hold.