When Christy Anderson decided to go back to school to get her doctorate, she knew there were things her family would have to give up.
She was already feeling the financial strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and was raising two growing boys on her own.
“I went back to school hoping that I could provide a better financial future for my family, but you have to make sacrifices when you do that,” said the 42-year-old mother of two from Winnipeg.
But the camp for his sons was not one of them.
Anderson, a Native 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 am very resourceful. I’m staying tuned to see what kinds of opportunities are available to help my kids with sports and other things like camp,” she said. “I am super happy and grateful for this financial support. To be able to access this extra support to send my kids to camp, especially after COVID, was truly amazing.
The Manitoba Camping Association’s Sunshine Fund aims to help children enjoy the benefits of camp by providing funding to eligible low-income families. Recipients are selected through an application process and the maximum grant amount is $700 per child per year.
Austin just returned from InterVarsity Pioneer Camp and Riley will be attending Cavalry Temple Camp on Red Rock Lake.
Anderson said her sons’ experiences at camp are pivotal moments in their childhoods.
“Going to summer camp is an important part of their development, as 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 daily routine with their family unit, which is safe and protected,” she said. “It’s important for them to be on their own and be independent, while being supervised, to become their own people.”
It was especially important to Anderson to send his 13-year-old to camp before he was too old to attend as a regular camper.
“He’s almost getting old, but he’s going to start training to be a counselor and a camp leader,” she said. “The goal is for him to be a counselor and lifeguard at the camp in the future.”
Anderson encourages other eligible families to apply for the funding.
“The process was very simple and it was easy to work with them. I have already recommended it to some of my friends.”