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Making unforgettable summer experiences possible for kids

For kids attending summer camps, a week of fun activities can go by fast when they’re keeping busy.

Elizabeth Klassen has been sending three of her four children to the Winkler Bible Camp every summer starting in July. She says it’s always hard for her to say goodbye when she drops her kids off.

 

“They are all excited and I’m at home — it’s so empty, but they always have so many things to tell me when they come back,” said Klassen.

Thanks to the Winnipeg Free Press Sunshine Fund, which helps low-income families send their children to camp, two of Klassen’s children will be attending for the third time.

 

Ronaldo, age 13, and Csilla, age 10, are looking forward to a week of ziplining, rock climbing, nature walks, horseback riding, swimming, arts and crafts, and singing in the camp’s chapel.

 

One summer, Csilla, who enjoys trying new things, couldn’t go on the zipline because her partner was too afraid, said Klassen. When she came home from camp, she swore she would find a partner next summer who wouldn’t be scared of heights.

 

This July will be Ronaldo’s final year at the camp. Klassen recalls having to scrub mud from his clothes after a week of overnight wilderness activities where children helped gather wood, cook food on an open fire and pitch a tent.

 

He is drawn to helping others, making friends and will become a great cabin leader, says Klassen.

 

Her oldest son, Leandro, 15, is no longer eligible to attend the camp.

 

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

The Sunshine 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-served basis.

 

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

 

Klassen heard about the Sunshine Fund through a friend shortly after arriving in Canada as a single parent in 2014. If it wasn’t for the fund, she says she wouldn’t have been able to send three of her children to the Winkler Bible Camp.

 

“It’s an amazing program that reaches out to families who need help… I pray for blessings for those people who donate,” she said.

tessa.adamski@freepress.mb.ca

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SUPPLIED

Leandro, 15, (from left), Ronaldo, 13, and Csilla, 10, have all enjoyed summer camp thanks to the Sunshine Fund.

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Contribute to the Sunshine Fund

Tessa Adamski

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