New Child & Adolescent Mental Wellness Summer Camp coming to Bonnyville

Camp will focus on youths not able to attend traditional summer camps

A new youth camp will be operating in Bonnyville, this summer, thanks to a $25,000 grant from Imperial Oil, Cold Lake. “We want the camp established for those kids, who’s ADHD, anxiety or depression, doesn’t allow them to necessarily attend summer camp,” explains Bonnyville’s Child & Adolescence Mental Health Clinic Navigator, Alena Thompson.

“We’re looking at (hosting the camp) three days a week for five or six weeks, of the summer. Give the kids somewhere where they can still get structure,” Thompson says structure is good for kids, “we found that last summer, when the kids lost that structure, some behaviours got worse, anxiety and depression symptoms grew, because they weren’t distracted by anything. This will be something for them to get out of the house and do.”

“We’re going to look at some of the kids that are in our clinic, already. That we know what their needs are, so we can tailor some of the events and programming around what we know they might need,” Thompson reports the clinic has 6-17 year old kids, with some 5 year olds. Due to the large age difference, the camp will be separated for 6-11 year olds and 12 years and older. “We’re hoping to get some teens in the camp and hoping to expose them to different career paths or interests. Doing a more mature type of camp, not just crafts and games for them.” There is talk of having the teen level camp take day trips to different businesses to explore different career paths. “Giving the kids some life skills and self-care techniques; because there is a point where they will have to manage their mental health, themselves. Keeping it fun, but giving them skills, at the same time.”

“We want to keep the camp smaller, so that we can really give them some good, focused attention,” Thompson says they are looking at keeping the camp around 10-12 kids a week.

“In the next week or two, we will find an established venue that will be a comfortable place and still have that bit of separation; so the kids can have that quiet space,” Thompson explains that originally the idea was to hold the camp at the Boys & Girls Club. Although, the Town, the club and FCSS all agreed to provide the facility free of charge for the camp, the venue was not ideal, because the club holds its own summer program. “We felt the kids at the camp needed their own space,” Thompson says. The Town has agreed to cover the insurance/liability, when a venue is determined. “They’ve been working very closely with us, to help with policies and procedures; so it’s been wonderful.” Thompson says she has been in talks with local schools and other larger venues and believes she will be able to find a location shortly.

More details on the camp will be released as the logistics become finalized, says Thompson, who adds a big thank you to Imperial Oil, Cold Lake for the grant that helped make it all possible. “It’s a $25,000 Imperial Oil Community Investment Grant, that we’re very grateful to have received.”