SUNDRIDGE – Seven months after fleeing Lebanon, nine-year-old Dalya Al-Debaijelsulaiman is on the shores of Lake Bernard, a couple kilometres outside Sundridge, about to experience sailing for the first time.
She approaches the water, sporting a pink full body swimsuit, and hops into a sailboat along with two fellow campers and a camp councillor. Having been canoeing and kayaking earlier in the week, she assumes she’ll need to paddle, and immediately picks up an oar ready to help out.
“You don’t need the paddle Dalya,” says Jocelyn Palm, owner director of Glen Bernard Camp, eagerly watching from the shore.
After ditching the paddle on the beach, Dalya and her friends are picked up by a big gust of wind and shot off into Lake Bernard. As the girls sail a small loop and head back to shore, Dayla is perched up on the side of the boat, leaning into the wind and grinning from ear to ear.
“I want to go back in that boat. It was tippy and fun,” says Dalya.
The pure joy and excitement displayed by Dalya is one of the many amazing moments Palm has witnessed over the course of the summer – the 95th year for the Glen Bernard summer camp for girls.
Dalya is one of 24 Syrian newcomers invited to the Glen Bernard Camp, in an effort to smooth their transition to Canada and give them a taste of the country’s beautiful, unique wilderness.