We Need Your Help
The Manitoba Camping Association has been sending kids to camp through the Winnipeg Free Press Sunshine Fund for 40 years.
To mark the anniversary, the MCA is planning something for the fall and we need your help.
Do you know someone who benefited from the Sunshine Fund when they were younger and are now in a place in their life where they want to give back?
Contact Rick Scherger at the
MCA office at 204.293.7339 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
We would love to hear from you.
How to help the Sunshine Fund
To donate, send cheques to the
Winnipeg Free Press Sunshine Fund
c/o Unit F-1215 Henderson Hwy.,
Winnipeg, MB, R2G 1L8.
You can donate in person with a cheque during office hours or in a locked mailbox outside the door. You can also call in with a credit card number to 204.784.1130.
Or you can donate by clicking here
When Donna Dawe and her family moved north six years ago, she knew despite their proximity to the wilderness, her children needed to experience camp.
"Camp is the complete getaway, a total retreat," said Dawe, who resides in The Pas, 600 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg.
"To me, that’s what summer is: kids getting to be kids. We’re not far from camp life; if you think of where we are, we could just go into the bush and camp — but going to camp is more than camping."
Dawe’s three children (14-year-old Owen, 11-year-old Graeme and eight-year-old Maggie) are off to Simonhouse Bible Camp in Flin Flon. Camp is so important to the children, Dawe said, they start asking about dates before the early bird deadline for registration has ended.
"Once camp is on the calendar, then everything else can fill in," she said.
The Dawes have benefited from the Winnipeg Free Press Sunshine Fund, which helps low-income families send children to camp. Dawe said the Sunshine Fund takes pressure off of her family.
"We don’t have to pick between sending our kids to camp and planning a Christmas vacation, or we don’t have to worry about picking and choosing what activities we do as a family quite so tight, because we know that our kids are going to be covered by the Sunshine Fund, so that enables us to be able to do one other family thing in the year."
In partnership with the Manitoba Camping Association, the Sunshine Fund has sent more than 26,000 children to camp to date. So far this year, funding has been allocated to help 555 children — just shy of this summer’s goal of 650.
Eligibility for funding is based on the Statistics Canada low-income cut-off chart and, if an applicant qualifies, they can receive up to $700 per child per year.
Dawe said she attended camp while growing up and recognizes how it can contribute to personal development.
"I remember what it was like to go to camp and you know, I didn’t get to go as often as I would have liked to go as a kid. You build so many interesting friendships and just have the experience of being yourself, away from your parents and navigating that, it’s like a rite of passage almost," she said.
Until the children head for Flin Flon, Dawe said, there are always some nerves buzzing around the household and sometimes, the nerves follow them to camp.
However, the counsellors have been supportive, especially of Graeme, who has autism and experiences challenges with rainstorms, she said.
"He goes into it apprehensive and he comes back saying, ‘I can’t believe I was afraid of anything, it was great, it was awesome,’" Dawe said, recalling previous years at camp.
"For me, that’s really encouraging as a parent, to know that even my child who has anxiety issues is coming back completely at ease about his experience."
The children look forward to spending time in the water, musical activities and, more importantly, they are eager to reunite with friends from other communities.
Family's calendar built around camp By: Nadya Pankiw
Maggie, Graeme (centre) and Owen are eager to reunite with friends at Simonhouse Bible Camp.