When you think of summer camp, images of kids having carefree fun while on vacation readily comes to mind. CCS’s Summer Enrichment Camp program in Scarborough is all this and much more. Amidst the mayhem and squeals of laughter, the five-week program for newcomer youth, ages 7-18, aims to provide a safe space in featuring hands-on learning in math, science and reading, while emphasizing the development of critical-thinking abilities and life skills.

On Creative Mondays, the kids examine real-world problems and learn how they can be solved using their own ideas. This year the kids explored one of the basic issues people still face in many parts of the world – access to clean drinking water. The class looked at different types of filtration systems used around the world and the kids built their own systems using readily accessible materials.

The program also partnered with Pizza Nova in running a pizza-making workshop, where the company provided all the ingredients required to make pizzas. A ‘chef’ then helped the kids follow various recipes in customizing their very own creations and the kids loved it.

Youth also take part in sports, field trips, community exploration and the arts.

This year, the program visited Black Creek Pioneer Village which dramatizes 1860s’ Toronto and features an authentically re-created country village. Kids toured the historic buildings and flowing gardens, checked out rare and heritage breed animals and went on a scavenger hunt. By exploring the past while reflecting on the present, the kids were encouraged to consider history from multiple perspectives and gain an understanding that Toronto’s story is, in fact, many stories told from many different points of view.

Every week on Soccer Friday, the kids played soccer, with volunteer “coaches” running various drills and teaching different techniques. The purpose was to expose the kids to skills that went beyond basic athletic drills, such as teamwork, communication, collaboration and leadership.

The program is one of four components of the Settlement and Education Partnership initiative (SEPT) which provides information and referral services, including individual case-based settlement counselling and group information sessions for immigrant students and their parents. SEPT is a collaboration between Citizenship and Immigration Canada, community agencies, the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic Board, as well as the Toronto Public Library. CCS is the lead agency for SEPT in Scarborough with services in close to 200 schools.