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Summer camp ‘very beautiful experience’ for newcomers

Peaceful traffic and abundant solitude probably aren’t qualities you’d associate with Winnipeg, but two parents from Colombia who sent their children to summer camp with the help of the Free Press Sunshine Fund say they apply to the city as much as rural St. Malo.

For the second year in a row, Jaime Pedraza and Ingrid Pinto sent Johan, 12, and Stephanie, 9, to the St. Malo Catholic Camps (referred to simply as “camps” by the Spanish-speaking Pedraza and Pinto).

 

The St. Malo program has been running for more than a decade, and was recommended to them by a friend who had sent their own children there.

 

The program also appealed to Pedraza and Pinto because of its Catholic affiliation.

 

In an interview conducted in Spanish, Pedraza said archery, swimming and kayaking were the children’s favourites among the wide range of options.

 

“But they loved almost all the activities,” he said with a laugh.

 

Pedraza and Pinto arrived in Winnipeg from Colombia in August 2020, citing economic reasons for the move.

 

In Colombia, Pedraza was a systems engineer, but due to having attained his credentials outside of Canada, he is currently working as a warehouse labourer.

 

Pinto is a student at the University of Winnipeg, where she is studying administrative business management.

 

The couple hope once Pinto graduates and is working, Pedraza can go back to school for the needed courses to qualify to work in his former field in Canada.

 

Pedraza and Pinto said they enjoy living in Winnipeg, citing as reasons its safety, quietness, and, perhaps surprisingly for a Winnipegger, traffic levels. Pedraza said are very good — relative to what he used to encounter in his home city of Bogota.

 

Pedraza and Pinto said they are grateful for the Sunshine Fund, since they wouldn’t have been able to afford to send Stephanie and Johan to camp without it.

 

“The possibility of giving them a new experience, to send them to camp last year with that sponsorship from the Sunshine Fund… It was a very beautiful experience for them and they were very excited that they got to go back to camp (this year),” Pedraza said.

 

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.

graham.mcdonald@freepress.mb.ca

For the second year in a row, Jaime Pedraza and Ingrid Pinto sent Johan, 12, left, and Stephanie, 9, to the St. Malo Catholic Camps (referred to simply as “camps” by the Spanish-speaking Pedraza and Pinto).

Graham McDonald

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