UNF FOUNDATION & UKRAINIAN CANADIAN SOCIAL SERVICES OTTAWA CO-SPONSORS of Sonyashnyk camp for Ukrainian children displaced by war, - a place where kids can just be kids. Held July 30 - Aug. 5, 2023

Oct 26, 2023
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Camp work

Sunflower Camp, now in its second year of operation, is a place where 35 displaced Ukrainian children can enjoy the peace and calm of nature while surrounded by others who have known the trauma and dislocation of war. Many are living without their fathers, who remain in Ukraine to fight or to work. Most are living with host families. Few are certain what the future will bring.

Organized by volunteers from the Ottawa branch of Ukrainian Canadian Social Services, and co-sponsored by the Ukrainian National Federation of Canada, the camp is infused with Ukrainian culture - its food, language, art and music.

Camp director Michael Ryndzak says organizers have learned not to program too much into each day so that children can just be with each other while enjoying camp activities.

“We want to create a situation for them to bond, to meet one another, and have a chance to open up and relax,” he says. “We learned we don’t have to impose too many programs. Let nature do its trick. Let the kids be kids.”

A wide range of activities, including swimming, fishing, canoeing, sports and games, dancing, singing and drawing, helped the children build confidence, teamwork skills and develop a positive attitude towards life. Ukrainian Canadian Social Services Ottawa plans to develop more social events for Ukrainian children so that newly-formed friendships can continue to grow.