WELCOME TO THE COMMUNITY!
Each summer, Cambridge & North Dumfries Community Foundation helps fund Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region’s Summer Discovery Program through the Kids to Camp Fund, a partnership between The Waterloo Region Record and Lyle S. Hallman Foundation. The program is a fun, recreational day camp that focuses on language and literacy development for children who are English Language Learners.
Summer Discovery involves a variety of active games, quiet games and crafts all designed for the children to have fun, be active and enhance their language and literacy skills. The camp works primarily with Newcomer and refugee children to provide them with support and help them develop a sense of belonging to their new community.
The program aims to provide children with a fun and safe environment to improve their English language skills, English literacy skills and bond with their peers. It is subsidized by Cambridge & North Dumfries Community Foundation’s Kids to Camp fund and is offered to the families free of cost.
Forty-eight children attended the camp last summer, two of which had come from Korea just five months prior. The two brothers were extremely shy and didn’t speak English. They didn’t seem to enjoy the activities and rarely spoke to other children or group leaders. The on-site settlement worker spoke to their mother, who explained that the boys had always been shy and weren’t comfortable speaking English to other people. The second week into the program, things had completely turned around.
“I happened to be helping facilitate a get –to-know-you activity with the group of children and I couldn’t believe the difference in the boys. This was the first time I had ever heard them talk and share things about themselves with anyone, let alone the entire group! To see the difference in them being actively engaged in the activities – smiling and laughing, was just amazing!” – Program Facilitator
Outcomes from the Summer Discovery program show that 81% of parents felt their children had improved their English language skills throughout the program, 93% of families felt the program had helped their children become more socially engaged and make new friends and 75% of parents expressed that their children developed a sense of belonging to the group.
This year, the program hopes to reach out to new Syrian refugees within the community.
Established in 2004, the Waterloo Region Record-Lyle S. Hallman Foundation Kids to Camp Fund annually provides grants for the purpose of enabling children and youth in need of financial assistance to attend a variety of day, overnight recreational and educational camps
Carly Stanisic, Marketing Specialist, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Waterloo Region