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Aboriginal Literacy Summer Camps

In January, 2005 the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, the Honourable James K. Bartleman, brought together a collaborative of service providers and the Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) to develop and operate literacy-based summer camps that were offered in five (5) isolated northern Ontario Aboriginal communities. After the first year, Frontier College was selected to develop and manage the programs.

The model has since expanded to over 40 communities in Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec.

In total, 60-100 children in each community have the opportunity to attend the summer literacy camps. Based on our experiences, a curriculum is developed that includes literacy games and activities, community specific content (e.g. elders), and an overarching theme that emphasizes the fun of reading and writing. Literacy is embedded into fun camp activities (e.g. scavenger hunts and games like tag). Camp counselors are hired and receive an extensive orientation and literacy training. Aboriginal specific content is developed through community involvement and engagement. The camps operate on a few key principles:

  • Community-Based: The diversity of each community is recognized and the summer camps are customized to the specific needs of each individual community, while at the same time offering standard, repeatable best practices. Members of the Aboriginal community are involved in the design and delivery of the summer camp program.
  • Respectful: Aboriginal knowledge, customs, cultures and history are valued and reflected in the design and delivery of the summer camp program.
  • Inclusive: Aboriginal youth are involved in the delivery of programs and services, with training included to support them in these efforts.

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