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Cooking up summer camp memories

A butcher’s son has developed a taste for bush cooking, after a stint at summer camp.

Thanks to the Free Press Sunshine Fund, Reuben, 11, and Isaiah, 9, have experienced an exhilarating time this summer.


Zachary Ward, father of the two children, heard about the Sunshine Fund through his sister-in-law and says he is grateful for its existence.

“We’re very happy with it. It’s not terribly difficult to access,” Ward said, “Sometimes these funds can have a lot of red tape, but it felt pretty streamlined.


“I have a bit of experience with filling out forms, but if you’re a new Canadian or you just don’t have that experience that can be a barrier. They’ve made it as low-barrier as I think they can to access, which is good.”


The Sunshine Fund is a registered charity that helps children from low-income families to attend summer camp, with subsidies of up to $700 per child. The guidelines for determining if a family qualifies as low-income can be found on the Manitoba Camping Association website and are based on the guidelines by Statistics Canada.


Thirty-six camps are accredited by the Sunshine Fund.


This summer, Reuben and Isaiah attended Camp Nutimik, at Lake Nutimik. It was Reuben’s second time; Isaiah’s first.


Ward said Reuben’s favourite activity is “bush cooking” — over a campfire. Reuben’s favourite dish he learned to cook in that fashion was a raspberry turnover, using a pie iron.


Both children also enjoy archery and have made plenty of new friends at the camp, the father said. Both are excited to go back next year.


Ward is employed at a butcher shop in the Wolseley neighbourhood of Winnipeg. He lives with his wife (a stay-at-home mother) and five children.


Ward’s three other children are too young to go to a summer camp, but the family intends to give them the option when they become old enough.


Ward said when he was a kid, his older brother went to summer camp but he didn’t.

“My older brother went to Pioneer Camp and had a bad experience due to homesickness. It spooked my parents, so they never gave me the option.”


Ward said he didn’t want his children to miss out on the opportunity to make summer camp memories.


He said the family wouldn’t have been able to send Reuben and Isaiah to Nutimik Camp without the Sunshine Fund.


“Camp is just very expensive, so it’s nice to be able to have that opportunity,” Ward said. “Living in the city, they don’t get a ton of those experiences, wilderness and camping and that sort of stuff.”


More than 26,000 children have been able to attend camp due to the Sunshine Fund, which relies on private donations and grants to operate.

Isaiah (left) and Reuben are pumped for camp.

Graham McDonald

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