31 children participate in Hyde Park Refugee Project’s summer camp

Summer camp participants enjoy a field trip to the Lincoln Park Zoo. (Contributed photo)


Thirty-one English language-learners participated in the Hyde Park Refugee Project’s second-annual summer enrichment camp, where they received relationship-based assistance with the language as well as guidance against cultural isolation to facilitate their settling into the neighborhood.

“The camp this year was all about building relationships and making the children feel welcome in our community.” said Lisa Jenschke, the Refugee Project’s co-director who directed the summer camp, in a statement. “One of the best ways to help newly resettled children is to provide consistent educational and emotional support.”

The program expanded from 20 children last year and from 2 to 4 weeks. Samantha Steinmetz, an intern from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, began planning the 2019 camp in January. Thirty student volunteers participated as counselors, drivers, individual tutors and program organizers.

A grant from the Holy Trinity Mission Endowment Fund paid for field trips to sites such as Millennium Park and the Lincoln Park Zoo; participants also did activities at the Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Ave., and local parks.

An anonymous donor from the Hyde Park-Kenwood Interfaith Council and three of its member congregations — the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5200 S. University Ave.; Augustana Lutheran Church, 5500 S. Woodlawn Ave.; and KAM Isaiah Israel, 1100 E. Hyde Park Blvd. — also actively supported the summer camp.

Volunteers with the Refugee Project, which was founded in 2016, provide educational enrichment, translations, childcare, legal and immigration process assistance, transportation services and connections to medical resources and employment. It also liaises refugees with many partner agencies, including Chicago resettlement service Refugee One, the U. of C. Laboratory Schools, the Syrian Community Network and Alpha Kappa Alpha.

“This summer camp extends the support we have given to the children during the school year,” Jenschke said.