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Mia Pudnak, Ruth Kaluraq (chaperon), Gwendolyn Arnasungaaq, Erin Anautalik, Hattie Mannik (chaperon), Jocelyn Amitnak and Stephanie Utatnaaq, from left, enjoyed time at the Mianiqsijit Project's female youth camp near Baker Lake this past month. - photo courtesy of Mianiqsijit Project

Camping fun for Baker teens

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Five teenage girls spent four days at a fun retreat and overnight camp on the land near Baker Lake this past month.

The youth camp has been run for the past two years by the Mianiqsijit Project; a nonprofit community counselling program started in Baker in 1991.

Mianiqsijit has two fulltime employees and a five-member volunteer board.

The fully-functional camp at Sahara Lake, about 160 km northwest of Baker, was donated to the project by Cameco Corp. for overnight camping retreats for youth.

The camp features a kitchen tent, washing tent, three sleeping tents, two mechanical sheds and an outdoor toilet.

While its mechanical operations are in good condition, repairs are needed to the Weatherhaven tents.

The Mianiqsijit Project plans to repair the Weatherhaven tent on the kitchen structure with a wooden building this summer, with lumber and building materials having already been purchased for the job.

Its board is looking to hire two or three professional carpenters to assist with the repairs, along with any volunteers from the community willing to help out.

Mianiqsijit Project coordinator Katie Snow said the girls who attended this year's camp - Mia Pudnak, Erin Anautalik, Jocelyn Amitnak, Gwendolyn Arnasungaaq and Stephanie Utatnaaq - were selected from Grade 7 classes at Jonah Amitnaaq Secondary School.

She said the girls, aged 13 and 14, were picked on the recommendation of their teachers as being wellbehaved students who don't usually participate in sport or group activities outside of school.

"The camp was organized as a fun retreat and opportunity for female youth who may not otherwise participate in extracurricular activities or leave the community," said Snow.

"The week was a very positive and rewarding experience for everyone involved, and we're looking forward to doing it again next year with new campers."

Camp chaperons were Mianiqsijit Project community worker Hattie Mannik and volunteers Ruth Kaluraq (studentsupport worker at Rachel Arngnammaktig Elementary School), Bill Kashla (pastor at Glad Tidings Church) and Arnold Moen Nijssen (Cameco employee).

The girls took part in numerous activities at the camp, including baking, berry picking, swimming, playing board games, doing arts and crafts, fishing, hiking, taking part in outdoor games and wildlife watching.

A board member loaned a satellite phone to the camp for the retreat, and the girls kept in touch with their guardians through messages on community radio.

Snow said healthy meals and snacks were provided, including a turkey dinner and Chinese food night.

"The Mianiqsijit Project is hoping, with repairs to the buildings at the camp site, the overnight camps will become an annual event for youth in Baker," said Snow.

"The project is looking into gearing next year's camp towards male youth.

"Anyone wishing to get involved in camp repairs are asked to please phone us at the Mianiqsijit Project."

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