Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Camp is where it's OK to be a kid

Help children challenge themselves

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Trust me, I never thought I'd be employed at the Winnipeg Free Press writing about the perks of sleeping in bunk beds or using an outhouse all summer.

As a journalism intern, I've been writing weekly articles for the Sunshine Fund, a Free Press campaign to raise donations and send children to summer camp. It's an assignment I can do with sincere passion because camp is in my blood.

Sunshine Fund donor deposits from July 5-15

 

J. R. Morden$25.00

Audrey Hilderman$40.00

Gerry and Irene Varnes$100.00

In memory of our son, Gerry Varnes Jr.

Harry Warren$50.00

Koenraad and Cecilia Lindner$350.00

In memory of Ants and Maria Uin

Jean Smith$100.00

In memory of Jim

Ms. Meeka Walsh$100.00

Mary Dixon $500.00

In honour of Emma, Sadie, Finn, Izzy and Sam

Anonymous$30.00

Bob and Clare Whitaker$50.00

In memory of Herb and Helen Whitaker

Dennis and Nellie Crowe$100.00

Anonymous$1,000.00

Margaret Smith$75.00

Linda C. Komus$50.00

In memory of Adeline Chic

Linda Meckling$100.00

In memory of friends

Eldeen Stark$50.00

In memory of my parents, Reg and Vivian Stark

Carol Walton $35.00

Shirley Simkulak$150.00

Morley and Marjorie Blankstein$150.00

Klaus and Marlene Goede$100.00

In memory of Ernie and Edie Riddell

Anonymous$100.00

Anonymous$200.00

Jim and Eileen Hilderman$50.00

Michael Skwark$25.00

Irene Pearson$100.00

Anonymous$50.00

Margaret Payjack$150.00

Terry Desrosiers$30.00

In memory of Shirley Boese

Naomi Mendelson$100.00

In memory of Dr. Jack Mendelson

Carolyn Kirk$100.00

Ross and Brenda Wedlake$50.00

In memory of Fred, Bill, Jean and Joan

Margaret Waldner$100.00

In memory Joe and Jackie Waldner

Jean Chambers$50.00

In memory of Cliff Chambers

Henk Booy and Anne Benjamins-Booy $200.00

Penny Green$100.00

Brendan and Liam Muirhead$50.00

Martha Gerbrandt$30.00

Ozechowsky Family$100.00

Associate Design$200.00

Margaret Silverthorne$100.00

In memory of my parents, Harry and Eva Young

M. Sam Katayama$125.00

Robert & Marnie Beninger$30.00

In memory of Shirley Boese

Richard Chale$200.00

William & Anne Edge$100.00

Tanissa Martindale$50.00

Cameron Repair Service$200.00

Anonymous$100.00

A. E. Wiatrowski$50.00

Kelly and Kelvin Einarson$100.00

Jake Rempel$75.00

Shirley Book$50.00

Elizabeth Schick$125.00

Grosse Isle Women's Institute$50.00

Donna Earl$50.00

Les and Jo-Ann Oliver$50.00

In memory of Ronald Martin

Walter and Melba Kruschel$200.00

Anonymous$50.00

Marilea Penrose$50.00

In memory of Marcia McComb

Rose Bethune$75.00

Anonymous $100.00

In loving memory of Tommy

Anonymous$400.00

Henry and Margaret Haresign $50.00

In memory of A. Moffat

Patricia and Roy Drewett$200.00

Joyce L. Church$100.00

In memory of my aunt Yvonne Laivlie.

Kathie Geekie$50.00

G. C. Oliver$200.00

In memory of Kent Oliver

Ettie and Earl Robinson$500.00

Doug and Mary Cobb$55.00

Mabel S. Smith$100.00

Sally R. Dowler$100.00

Anonymous$2,000.00

Anonymous$365.00

Anonymous$100.00

J. Bender$350.00

Roy & Virginia Johnson$100.00

Tom Kerchimar$200.00

Don and Dale Turner$100.00

Anonymous$100.00

Anonymous$200.00

Anonymous$100.00

In memory of Stefan

Isabel E. Saunders$25.00

Thomas George Sykes$100.00

Anonymous$25.00

Pat Savoie$25.00

In memory of Gil Savoie

Don and Barbara Brownell$200.00

Jack Lazareck$1,000.00

Rea Nesbitt$100.00

Joanie Fridell and Milton Freedman $100.00

R. Bryce and Brenda Simes$75.00

Edith Harrison$50.00

David and Shirley Bell$300.00

In memory of Irma Arthurs, Ron Bell and Ed Hilditch

Evelyn and Larry Hecht$100.00

Joyce Harris$50.00

Anonymous$100.00

 

As a child, I was a regular camper, and a camp counsellor a few years later. Every summer, I met dozens of enthusiastic kids from the Sunshine Fund who shared my passion for bunk beds and outhouses but relied solely on donations to get there.

I remember my first day as a camper at Camp Arnes. I hated frogs, mosquitoes and the texture of sleeping bags. My mom dressed me up in a cute little layer of bug spray. I packed everything from 18 bathing suits to 10 of my favourite Beanie Babies. I remember the loud screams of friends reuniting from the year before, and how nervous I was lugging my suitcase into a cabin with seven girls I had never met.

I remember cabin sneak-outs to the dining hall to feast on chocolate sundaes in the kitchen. I remember meeting my two best friends while sitting on a couple of bunk beds inside a smelly old cabin, and working alongside them as counsellors years later. I remember feeling like I was at an SSRqN Sync concert whenever the staff played music at night. I remember feeling so special when my counsellor would French-braid my hair in our cabin.

I also remember what it was like to return home at the end of the week. I would hide from my mom and dad in a crowd of people when they came to pick me up. I hoped my parents would simply forget about me and I'd be forced to stay an extra week. The second I got home, I would count down the months until my next week at camp. I told everyone I wanted to be the camp director when I grew up so I'd be at camp 365 days out of the year.

When I became a camp counsellor at Camp Arnes, I learned your heart turns into a bit of a punching bag.

It takes a hit when a camper asks to be tucked into bed at night because they don't have a mom to do it anymore.

It takes a jab when you share your box of Smarties with a camper every day because they don't have enough money for snack.

It takes a kick when a camper hugs you goodbye and tells you they don't want to go back to real life because there are bullies at school.

It takes a head-butt when you put them on a bus to go home, knowing they have to play grown-up for the next 11 months because Mom is working all day and Dad isn't around.

It takes another beating when you hear their stories. One little girl from the Sunshine Fund loved hugs, horseback riding, and talking over Gobstoppers and Caramel Apple Pops. But most importantly, she loved to run around camp. We ran to the dining hall, we ran during the games, we ran to the lake, we ran around in a cabin the size of a Polly Pocket house. Throughout the week, I found out why we ran so much. Her mom couldn't run with her. She was paralyzed in a wheelchair and couldn't afford to send her daughters to camp. The little girl told me she hoped her mom would be able to run again with her someday.

As a counsellor, my campers from the Sunshine Fund always reminded me of the importance of summer camp. This summer, they're reminding me again.

It's one week where they're allowed to stay up past their bedtime. One week where it's OK to roll around in the mud. One week where they can eat dinner with their fingers. One week where screaming and loud cheering is very much encouraged. One week where they can challenge themselves to ride a horse for the very first time, or conquer their fear of heights by swinging off the zip line. One week where they can escape the challenges of reality and feel at home. One week where someone will braid their hair.

Please raid your piggy banks, check under your couches, or pull the lint out of your jean pockets and donate to the Sunshine Fund.

You'll help a kid experience one unforgettable week when it's OK to be a kid.

elizabeth.fraser@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 20, 2013 B2

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