Newcomer children in Cap-Pelé treated to free summer camp

Moncton's newcomer organization Le CAFi is hosting a free summer camp for children in the Cap-Pelé region to help them adjust to their new life, language and culture before they begin school this fall.

The children are part of a group of newcomers who arrived in the community after their parents took jobs with local fish-processing plants in recent years to help fill labour shortages.

About 130 families from Mexico, Jamaica and the Philippines are expected to reunite in the southeastern New Brunswick village this year.

The 37 children participating in the three-week camp are four to 18 years old.

"There's a lot of culture shock coming to Canada." said Christine Cormier, a co-ordinator for Le CAFi. Even something as simple as yellow school buses, for example, will be new to the children, she said.

"So it's good for them to know a little bit [about] how the school works and also know a little bit of French before they get immersed into it 100 per cent in September."

The camp is combining fun activities with French-language learning, she said. For example, the children play games, such as basketball, search-and-find and bingo and learn some of the related vocabulary.

Submitted by Christine Cormier

The children have varying levels of French-language skills and are "all working together to learn all together," said Cormier.

They have also gone on some outings, including the Magnetic Hill Zoo in Moncton and the fire station in Cap-Pelé, she said.

"This is very interesting for them and we make sure … they also learn about the Canadian culture."

Submitted by Christine Comier

Le CAFi offered a similar camp for newcomer youth in Moncton last year and the feedback from the families was positive, said Cormier. The children's language skills improved and they were "able to integrate better in the community."

The children learn about each other's cultures and the camp staff also learn, said Cormier.

"It really is a two-way learning street."

As New Brunswick looks to attract more newcomers and boost its population, Cormier hopes to see more camps available.

"It's important to integrate the kids as soon as they get here and at a very young age," she said. "That way that they can learn as much as they can,

"And it's also good to raise awareness in the community to go around and to have people from different nationalities showing their culture too."