Sunshine Fund lights up looming summer camp season
While robins may be viewed as the first sign of spring, camping is a sure sign of summer.
With your generosity, many children whose families can’t afford to send them to summer camp will to get out into the great outdoors with the birds and wildlife.
For the 43rd time, we’re kicking off the annual Free Press Sunshine Fund, hoping generous readers will help these deserving children.
Once they get your financial assistance, they will be able to choose from 31 overnight or day camps as far north as Simonhouse Bible Camp near Flin Flon, as far west as Turtle Mountain Bible Camp near Boissevain, and as far east as Luther Village near Kenora, Ont.
“Another camping season is upon us, along with our annual ask to readers to help make a summer camping experience possible for as many kids as possible,” Free Press editor Paul Samyn said.
“We are so appreciative of what Free Press readers have done for the Sunshine Fund in the past, and we are hopeful they can come through again this summer.”
Kim Scherger, Manitoba Camping Association executive director, said it has already helped fund 270 children at the camp of their choice. Funding from the Sunshine Fund is a sliding scale based on family income.
“Our goal is to place over 400 kids into camp through the Sunshine Fund, but something tells me we may have to get to 500. We are still encouraging people to apply to the Sunshine Fund.”
Scherger said gone this year is the need to print application forms to fill out and mail to the camping association.
“People can fill out the form right on our website (mbcamping.ca),” she said. “People don’t always have printers, so now they can fill in the application online.”
This will be the second summer of full overnight camping since COVID-19 pandemic-related restrictions were removed, but Scherger said the effects of the two full years of closures are still being felt.
“There is still a lot of anxiety felt by parents about sending kids away,” she said. “I tell them going to camp is safe.
“But what we are finding is the anxieties which Grade 4 kids had before the pandemic, about experiencing separation from their parents, is not only at a young age, but also with children in Grade 6 or 7.”
However, Scherger, said those feelings disappear when, depending on the camp, the child gets on a horse, jumps into a kayak, gets out on a stage or races on a zip line.
“Camp is wonderful,” she said. “It helps make these kids better people than who they are now.
“It helps them build independence. They learn to make some decisions on their own. They learn how to get along with others and how to try new experiences. And then you have the counsellor in training — you could potentially become a staff member.”
Scherger said she has also heard, anecdotally, further down the road, many job applicants are brought in for interviews because the potential employer has seen they worked at a camp.
So now it is up to you. The various ways you can donate are explained in the box beside this article, so it really is just a matter of filling in a cheque, picking up the phone or going to your computer. You’ll even get back a charitable tax receipt.
Do it now, while you’re thinking about it. You could not only help make a child’s summer, but change their life.
Sunshine Fund communications and marketing coordinator Rick Scherger, Manitoba Camp Association executive director Kim Scherger, Sunshine Fund summer student Sydney Winzinowich, Sunshine Fund program manager Dana Moroz, and Sunshine Fund summer student Anna DeFehr show their enthusiasm for the program.
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