Summer camp is a right of passage for most youngsters after school gets out at the end of June. Memories and friendships last a lifetime. Íslenskar Sumarbúðir is one such camp.
by Shaune Jonasson
It's summertime! A time when youngsters are out of school and looking forward to summer activities, which often means camp time. In our Icelandic community we have a special culture-based summer camp in Manitoba: Íslenskar Sumarbúðir or Icelandic Camp.
Icelandic Camp began over thirty years ago intent on bringing youth of Icelandic descent together to learn Icelandic culture and language as well as engaging in fun summer activities. Today all children are invited to attend the camp; being of Icelandic descent is not a requirement for registration or attendance.
After being on hiatus due to the pandemic, like so many other group activities, Icelandic Camp will return to the shores of Lake Winnipeg this summer for eight days starting on July 30th. Camp Veselka, as it's called with Veselka meaning "rainbow" in Ukrainian, has moved to different areas over the years. The camp is presently located just two miles north of Gimli, Manitoba. This new location has rustic cabins, plenty of learning spaces, large activity areas and a private beach.
Here at Camp Veselka children can register as Day campers (ages 5-8), Regular campers or those who stay overnight (ages 8-14), and the Junior Counsellors (15-17). The staff are often “graduates” of Camp Veselka. During camp, the youngsters are immersed in all things Icelandic from language lessons to viking crafts to writing their own sagas. They share music, songs, sports, and laughter. These activities bestow a love of Icelandic ancestry and life.
The camp CEO is Brad Hirst. I had the pleasure of meeting Brad at the INLofNA in Banff, May 2023 after his passionate presentation on the evolution of the camp and what it means to him and hundreds of youths that have attended over the years. Brad has a long history with the camp. As a Snorri (2002) and a strong advocate for this life-changing camp, he began as the language instructor, became the Camp Director in 2008, then in 2014 he stepped aside to accept his current role as Chief Executive Officer.
The camp is staffed by volunteers. They return annually because they believe in and are committed to the engagement in our youth development. Beyond a doubt, it's a most rewarding experience. Supporting activities such as Camp Veselka is a beneficial investment of time and effort holistically. Additionally, a person or group can pledge to donate for one child to attend rather than giving to the camp. Whether one chooses to donate time, experience, knowledge, or funds; it is all a welcome asset.
Icelandic Roots is proud to sponsor the Icelandic Summer Camp at Gimli because it recognizes the importance and endorses the learning of our Icelandic culture and language. Scholarships are available from Icelandic Roots for the campers. https://www.icelandicroots.com/icelandic-camp-scholarship
Help create memories that will last a lifetime. For more ways to be a part of the camp please email Camp CEO Brad Hirst at firstname.lastname@example.org.