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Sunshine Fund, summer camps back in action after long hiatus

For a long two years, COVID-19 has slammed the doors of overnight summer camps and kept children from being able to experience activities such as horseback riding, kayaking and swimming.


But this summer, the only thing stopping children from experiencing summer camp is being able to afford to go — and that’s where you come in.

For the 42nd time, the Winnipeg Free Press Sunshine Fund is seeking donations from readers to help these deserving children, who wouldn’t normally be able to afford the costs of attending summer camp.


Summer 2022 comes after the dropping of public health orders, which for two years completely closed overnight camps and barely allowed day camps to operate.


"This summer will be a special one for the Sunshine Fund, as it marks the first since COVID struck that camps can do all that they do so well for kids across our province," Free Press editor Paul Samyn said.


"As a former camp counsellor, I know the difference a week at a summer camp can make in a child’s life and how important the Sunshine Fund is to ensuring those camping experiences can be within the reach of low-income families. I also know we can again count on the generosity of Free Press readers to make a difference though the Sunshine Fund."


At the Manitoba Camping Association, executive director Kim Scherger and fund program manager Dana Moroz said they already have a list of more than 200 children eligible for Sunshine Fund support.


"It is a real fast start for registrations," Scherger said. "There are no more restrictions happening. Camps can operate like pre-pandemic."


Scherger said that doesn’t mean camps have nothing in place in case a camper or camp staff get sick. She said each have individual plans for such contingencies.

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"We think we will get close to 325 to 350 kids (on the approved list). That would bring us closer to the 600 we used to have pre-pandemic," Moroz said.


Many camps are limited with how many children they can accept because of the number of staff they’ve been able to find to hire after two years of being shuttered, Scherger said.


Those wishing to apply to a camp can go to the association’s website to find links to the 32 overnight camps and four day camps it has accredited.


Any way you look at it, the children who need the Sunshine Fund to be able to experience camp, really need you. So please, while you’re thinking of it, write out a cheque, go online or pick up the phone to send in a donation.


COVID-19 has already stolen so much from all of us. Don’t let it again steal a child’s chance to go to summer camp.

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