When Christy Anderson decided to go back to school to get her PhD, she knew there were things her family would have to give up.
She was already feeling the financial strain from the COVID-19 pandemic and raising two growing boys on her own.
“I went back to school in hopes of being able to secure a better financial future for my family, but you have to make some sacrifices when you do that,” said the 42-year-old Winnipeg mother of two.
But the camp for her sons was not one of them.
Anderson, an Indigenous studies student at the University of Saskatchewan, heard about the Sunshine Fund through a camp director, applied and was approved for funding for her sons Riley, 13, and Austin, 9, this summer.
“I’m very resourceful. I keep my ears open to see what kind of opportunities there are available to help fund my children to play sports and other things like camp,” she said. “I’m super happy and grateful for that financial support. Being able to access that extra support to send my kids to camp, especially after COVID, was really amazing.”
The Manitoba Camping Association Sunshine Fund aims to help children experience the benefits of camp by providing funding to eligible, low-income families. Recipients are selected through an application process and the maximum subsidy amount is $700 per child per year.
Austin just got back from InterVarsity Pioneer Camp and Riley will be attending Cavalry Temple Camp on Red Rock Lake.
Anderson said her sons’ experiences at camp are crucial moments in their childhood.
“Going away to summer camp is an important part of their development because it pushes them to be more independent, meet new people and try new things. They don’t have that safety net of the same old everyday routine with their family unit, which is safe and protected,” she said. “Going off on their own and being independent, while still supervised, is important for them to develop into their own people.”
It was especially important for Anderson to send her 13-year-old to camp before he was too old to attend as a regular camper.
“He’s almost aging out, but he’s going to start training to be a counselor and a leader at camp,” she said. “The goal is for him to be a counselor and a lifeguard at camp in the future.”
Anderson encourages other eligible families to apply for the funding.
“The process was very simple and they were easy to work with. I have already recommended it to some of my friends.”