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Packing traditions for camp makes great icebreaker

Nine-year-old Isabeau-briar has an annual camp tradition of packing her stuffed bunny, Harry Potter fleece blanket, a new pair of pyjamas and her Frozen pillow featuring characters Anna and Elsa.

“I think packing stuff like that is a really good icebreaker for nine-year-olds,” said her mother, Callie Hill.


As per her camp tradition, she won’t wear her new pair of pyjamas until the first night of camp. Apart from packing these items, she makes sure to put bug spray, sunscreen, a sleeping bag, clothing and her Bible in her suitcase.


Thanks to the Winnipeg Free Press Sunshine Fund, which helps low-income families send their children to camp, Isabeau-briar will attend her third year at the Winkler Bible Camp for one week at the beginning of July.

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


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


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


“I’m so eternally grateful that the Sunshine Fund is able to help kids like my daughter go to camp,” said Hill. “Kids need those experiences. They need those times away from parents and the independence they get from going to camp.”


Hill says her daughter loves swimming, ziplining, building blanket forts in her bunk bed, doing arts and crafts and making new friends. Her daughter is always eager to pack her bag months before it’s time to leave for camp.


Hill says camp is a fantastic way for her daughter to create memories, traditions, and experiences while she can recharge and have a break from being a full-time single parent.


Isabeau-briar can learn new skills, be creative, discover her likes and dislikes and participate in activities she otherwise wouldn’t have had the chance to, said Hill.


Every year when Isabeau-briar comes home, the first thing she says is, “I want to go back next year – when can we start packing?”


Isabeau-briar looks forward to becoming a camp instructor in the leadership  development program at the Winkler Bible Camp where she will be able to pass her camp traditions onto younger children.



Nine-year-old Isabeau-briar with mother, Callie Hill.

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