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Fund helps newcomers give kids a Canadian summer experience

Thanks to the Free Press Sunshine Fund, instead of being cramped up all day memorizing multiplication tables and learning world capitals, Samuel and Charis Li will get their first experience spending summer at camp.

Nehemiah Li, the father of both children, explained that a parent sending their kids to summer camp is an almost unknown phenomenon in his native Hong Kong, where children typically spend their summers indoors being intensively tutored to prepare for the next academic year.


Discovering of the existence of summer camp upon his arrival in Canada, Li became excited about the possibility of giving his kids a reprieve from non-stop studying.


“I wanted them to enjoy outdoor activities during the summertime and I hoped they could make friends in the campsite,” the Morden said.


Charis, 10 years old, will be attending Winkler Bible Camp from Aug. 14-18 and her brother Samuel, 13, will be attending the same camp from Aug. 21-25.


Li says the kids are very excited, especially excited about going swimming and hiking with the other campers.


Friends whose children had a “great experience” recommended the Winkler camp. Those friends also recommended the Sunshine Fund.


Li described the application process for the fund as simple and straightforward and is happy it is giving his children the opportunity to experience camp.


Li and his wife immigrated to Canada a year ago and have since become permanent residents.


Li currently works for a non-governmental organization that helps immigrants adjust to living in Canada; in Hong Kong he worked as a high school mathematics teacher, and his wife is a private piano and singing teacher who teaches her clients out of her home.


The main reason for the move was to escape the political turmoil that has been building in Hong Kong, he said, adding they’ve found quiet, safety and friendly neighbours in Morden.


The Sunshine Fund helps low-income families send their children to summer camp.


Applications are available on the Manitoba Camping Association website and income guidelines are based on the “low-income cutoffs” used by Statistics Canada. Each child is potentially eligible for a subsidy of up to $700.


The organization relies on private donations and grants to operate.


Over the past 40 years, the Sunshine Fund has sent more than 26,000 children to various camps in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario.

Charis Li, left, and Samuel Li

Graham McDonald

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