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“You have the ability to change a life this summer. How are you going to do it?” Executive Director Dawn Currie asks participants at the beginning of the Recreation and Parks Association of Nunavut (RPAN) Get Happy Summer Day Camp staff training week in the Baffin and Kitikmeot regions. 

Now in its second year, the week focuses on providing training and certification to summer day camp staff as well as supporting communities in hosting the Get Happy program. “There are amazing young leaders in our communities. We owe it to them and to the people in Nunavut to provide leadership and skill development so that they are able to contribute towards healthier and active lifestyles and to also develop skills that prepare them for the future.”

This year the program is running in Cambridge Bay, Kugluktuk, Igloolik, Hall Beach, Arctic Bay, Pond Inlet and Pangnirtung.

In June, 37 young leaders participated in a week of training that included team building activities, first aid and High Five certification, leadership development and daily/special event planning. They learn from each other and with each other and they return to their communities as a “team” to implement meaningful and quality programs for the next six weeks. They realize that their role as a summer day camp counselor is significant. They are role models, parents are entrusting them with their children, and the children are looking to them for a fun and safe summer.

Through High Five® training, front line recreation, sport and after school leaders learn how to incorporate the Principles of Healthy Child Development into their everyday program­ming. The High Five® principles emphasize the social, emotional and cognitive needs of children to help front line leaders engage participants, build relationships and resolve conflict. High Five® is Canada’s only quality standard for children’s sport and recreation. If you provide sport and recreation programs for children, High Five® has everything you need to ensure a comprehensive quality experience for your participants, staff and volunteers. RPAN is the Nunavut provider of High Five®.

The balloon tower building project is about team building. Teams are given 50 balloons, string and tape and with these they have to build a free standing tower. The purpose of this project is to figure out that you need a strong foundation to build from or the tower won’t stand. In other words, you need support.This parallels the work place: without a strong foundation, your team will fail.

“The training I took has helped me a lot and more ideas come to mind. The first aid, games and other activities will help with our summer day camp program,” says Preston Kapakatoak, Day Camp Supervisor in Kugluktuk.

In addition to staff training, RPAN provides all communities with t-shirts for participants, arts and craft supplies, gift cards for healthy snacks and staff clothing. A Facebook page has been created to allow the staff from all seven communities to share ideas, post photos, share in challenges and celebrate successes.

Team Building Activity: Balloon Tower Building. © Dawn Currie
Team Building Activity: Balloon Tower Building. © Dawn Currie

“The Day Camp allows the Municipality to employ local youth as leaders for the summer and keeps the younger children involved in meaningful activities each day. Many of the kids who come to the Camp are experiencing this type of group activity for the first time and the smiles on their faces each day encourage us to continue with the program. As a community we are excited to host this program with RPAN and we look forward to watching the program grow each year,” Kimberly Young, SAO, Municipality of Hall Beach.

RPAN is not alone in its belief of the worth of the Get Happy program. The Qikiqtani Inuit Association and Kitikmeot Inuit Association are the two greatest financial supporters. In addition, the Northwest Company donates gift cards to communities to purchase snacks, and the Government of Nunavut also provides support. First Air is also the exclusive Airline of RPAN.

Next year, says Currie, we hope to increase the number of communities and get into the Kivalliq.

Recreation and Parks Association of Nunavut