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 Rebecca Norman was young, she once had the opportunity to visit Camp Arnes. The experience was so significant, she wanted to make sure her five children would have such a place to look forward to in the summer.
As the kids grew older, they began spending their summers at camp. Norman’s oldest child, Payton Mitchell, now works at Camp Arnes as a councillor and watched over her two young brothers — seven-year-old Ben and six-year-old Sam — during their first time away from home.
"That really made all the difference," Norman said.
"I don’t think they would have gone alone, they probably would have waited a few years, and who knows even then if they would have gone? So it’s nice to have them together."
The siblings have been able to attend camp thanks to the Winnipeg Free PressSunshine Fund, which assists low-income families. Over the past 40 years, the Sunshine Fund has sent more than 26,000 children to camp.
This year, to date, funding has been allocated to help 590, just short of its goal of 650.
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-serve basis.
Based on the Statistics Canada’s low-income chart, a family could be eligible for up to $700 per child, per year in assistance. A qualifying family would then be able to send their child to one of 31 camps across the province.
Although her oldest child has become a well-seasoned camper, Norman said she was a bit nervous to send her boys away from home — as they have only had overnight visits with relatives before.
"It was definitely more nerve-racking for Benjamin. He’s autistic and extremely shy, very scared of new people, so we weren’t sure if he would stay or not," Norman said.
"But having his sister at the camp and brother in the same room was super helpful for him and, boy, did he come out of his shell. They loved every minute of it."
During the two-night stay at Camp Arnes, the boys went ziplining, rock climbing, swimming, and sang songs by the campfire.
Norman said she has already seen personal growth in her children.
"It really helps with social skills, especially my little autistic boy, he’s definitely come out of his shell a lot since going to camp and I can tell there’s a lot more confidence in his abilities," she said.
While Norman said she is grateful organizations such as the Sunshine Fund exist, she knows it wouldn’t be possible without the help of generous people. "We definitely have a charitable community in Winnipeg and in Manitoba," she said.
"It’s just so wonderful to be able to give these little guys a place to grow, you know? With the technology and how busy people are, the fact that kids are still able to get out and into the fresh air and do kid activities in the summer is wonderful."
Building confidence at first camp By: Nadya Pankiw
Six-year-old Sam Norman (left) and older brother Ben, 7, loved their time at Camp Arnes, funded by the Winnipeg Free Press Sunshine Fund.