Guest Post: Refugee Transitions Providing Summer Fun and Learning

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Editor’s Note: We welcome Refugee Transitions as a contributor to the Good Neighbor Stories site. Check out the GNS article about this wonderful San Francisco Bay Area nonprofit. If you have a group that would like to contribute posts to our site, contact us.

Summer is finally here, and with it sunshine, a break from school, and family trips and vacations. However, for many refugee and immigrant youth, summer can be the most difficult and dreary time of the year. Many of these youth are low-income and unable to join in on the summer activities that their peers may be able to enjoy – even the resources that are available are often difficult to access, as students need a means of transportation to and from various summer camps and enriching activities.

Refugee Transitions, a nonprofit social service and education organization based in the San Francisco Bay Area, provides invaluable support to these newcomer students during their first years in their new communities, providing safe, supportive and engaging learning environments. As part of their programming, the agency organizes annual summer camps for refugee youth, which help to relieve students from frequently home-bound days.

These summer camps include two overnight camps in the Presidio of San Francisco, each hosting around 30 refugee youth and unaccompanied refugee minors (youth who have been separated from their families and are welcomed to this country by a foster family), and a two-week enrichment camp located in Sunnyvale, California.

Last year, the two-week camp was attended by over 30 refugee youth and also incorporated ESL and enrichment classes for adults. The camp is held during the day for four days each week and is also followed by a one-week soccer camp that Refugee Transitions holds in partnership with the nonprofit organization Soccer Without Borders. Students are involved in a variety of activities and aided by volunteers and paid teachers as they create arts and crafts, learn dance routines, play games, write personal histories and poetry, cook, and much more!

Camps like these are invaluable experiences that give refugee students – many of whom have arrived here from refugee camps with limited and interrupted formal education and extremely limited resources – the chance to meet and interact with their peers, build lasting friendships, practice their English, and set goals for the upcoming school year.

This year’s enrichment camp will run from July 23 through August 2. If you are interested in getting involved as a volunteer, please contact Elsa at elsa@reftrans.org. If you would like to donate to Refugee Transitions to support any one of their summer camps, please visit http://www.reftrans.org/donate.