Summer camp helps children keep French skills

Jodi Schellenberg
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Children in French immersion from an English family may want to consider going to a unique day camp this summer.

Jara MacFarlane, organizer of the Canadian Parents for French Camp D’ete, stands outside the Alfred Jenkins Centre where the camp will be held this August.

Camp D’été, a French immersion summer day camp for children entering kindergarten to Grade 5, is looking for both campers and sponsors.

The five-day camp will run from August 18-22, giving children who are in French immersion the opportunity to continue working on their skills during the summer months.

“It helps them keep their skills up to date and why we always try to have a later date is because in a few weeks they are going to start school again,” said Jara MacFarlane, a member of Canadian Parents for French and camp organizer.

“Maybe during the course of the summer they haven’t had the chance to speak as much French being that their family may not be speaking French in the home.”

The camp can help them “get immersed” in French and “ready for school.”

Right now, MacFarlane is looking for sponsors to help pay for the camp and additional expenses.

“We are a non-profit, so we never actually look to make money, we always try to break even,” she said. “If we can actually break even we are good.”

In addition to the cost of renting the Alfred Jenkins Centre, they also have to pay for lodging and food for the five university students who will be camp leaders of monitors.

“Then we are taking off on the Wednesday to the Prince Albert National Park, so we have to pay for the busing and to pay to get in through the gates and everything else is expensive but we are hoping that everything falls into place,” MacFarlane said.

The camp only costs $100 for Canadian Parents for French members and $135 for non-members, which works out to close to $20 a day, she said.

“We have been putting summer camps on for about 20 years,” MacFarlane said. “What we have done is usually we have been able to go later dates in the year, which is close to the end of August before school starts because a lot of these families are lake people and take off for vacations so July is usually not even an option.”

Prince Albert is not the only place a CPF camp is held -- there are others in Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw and other communities. The university students travel from community to community, running the camps.

“For us, it is also a role model thing because the children are preschoolers entering kindergarten in the fall to Grade 5 and we want them to see these students are fulfilling their dreams,” MacFarlane said. “Now they are actually university students continuing with their learning and keeping up with their French so they are actually role models for the students.”

During the camp, students have the chance to do many activities, including games, cooking, crafts and more, all in a French-speaking environment, she said.

“This is specifically for French immersion students because these camps are for students who are learning French as a second language -- sometimes a third language, because we see a lot of different cultures coming into our city,” MacFarlane said.

“Canadian Families for French actually started about 40 years ago in Ottawa by a group of parents that wanted their children to have an opportunity to learn French,” she added. “That is how all these French immersion schools started by a small group of parents.”

Although the camp is focuses on Prince Albert children, MacFarlane said they accept anyone.

“We will take anyone, that is the way we always have been -- we have a lot of Prince Albert students that attend the camp,” she said. “A couple years ago we had three students from Moose Jaw that came because they were visiting grandma.”

The deadline for camp registration is June 30 to give them an idea of how many children will be attending. Those interested can contact MacFarlane at 306-922-9199 or

She also asked that anyone wishing to sponsor the camp should also contact her.

“Any donation to the camp we will accept graciously because any amount will help us make a successful camp.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Alfred Jenkins Centre

Geographic location: Moose Jaw, Prince Albert National Park, Saskatoon Ottawa

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