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Summer camp fun through the ages

For children across Manitoba, a great time at summer camp has no age requirement.

Delany Letkeman’s four children know this well. With eight years between them, her youngest child is fresh out of kindergarten, while her oldest is off to high school in the fall — but they’re all headed to Winkler Bible Camp.

Thanks to the Free Press Sunshine Fund, Ashton, 14, Cheyenne, 11, Madalyn, 9 and Sawyer, 6, will experience an exhilarating week at camp this summer.

Every year, the fund helps low-income families across the province send their children to camp.

Faith, friends and family are on the agenda for the Letkemans, who are attending Winkler Bible Camp for the first, second and third time, respectively, through the Sunshine Fund.

In 2019, Letkeman found out about the Sunshine Fund through her children’s school. This year will be the third time she’s accessed it.

 

“We just really appreciate the Sunshine Fund,” Letkeman said. “Without them, we would not have been able to send our kids to camp.”

 

In the past 40 years, the Sunshine Fund has sent more than 26,000 children to one of 31 summer camps in the province.

 

The fund relies on donations and grants to subsidize expenses for children. Applications are available on the Manitoba Camping Association website, which processes funding requests on a first-come, first-served basis.

 

A family could be eligible for up to $700 per child, per year based on Statistics Canada’s low-income chart.

 

Coming from a faith-based home, Winkler Bible Camp stood out to Letkeman for its focus on Christian teachings. As a child, she spent two summers at the camp, located a skip away from their home in the city of Winkler.

 

“They get to learn more about God, they get to build a relationship with their faith, and they get to make friends from all over,” Letkeman said.

The camp offers a wealth of activities for campers of all ages, from horseback riding to rock climbing. So, while her younger children adore the petting zoo, her teen, Ashton, raves about competing against his cabinmates in paintball.

 

After camp was put on hold for two years due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, returning last summer was particularly special.

 

“The first summer they went back after COVID, they had so much fun,” Letkeman said. “I think it was good for them, for their mental health, to be around people again and to be able to experience camp.”

 

Upon coming home, the Letkemans always come back with a smile, a collection of memories and stronger connection to their faith.

cierra.bettens@freepress.mb.ca

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SUPPLIED

Delaney Letkeman’s four children, Ashton, 14, Cheyenne, 11, Madalyn, 9 and Sawyer, 6 are headed to camp.

Cierra Bettens

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