Jordan Wiebe loves creating art and spending time with her friends. Next week, the 13-year-old will seek to add a third love to her list: summer camp.
Jordan is packing her bags and will soon be sent off to Camp Arnes to discover survival hacks, archery and horseback riding.
While she has never been to summer camp, or on a horse, her father, Tyler Frego, thinks it will be an experience outside of her comfort zone.
"I think, at first, she’s going to be quite shy about going up to a horse. I don’t know if she’s ever been face-to-face with a horse before, but I think she will enjoy herself, she does enjoy animals," he said.
Jordan is one of more than 26,000 children with the opportunity to attend camp thanks to the Sunshine Fund. Over the past 40 years, $7 million in grants and donations has allowed the Sunshine Fund to subsidize camp expenses for low-income families.
Families can apply for funding through the Manitoba Camping Association website. Based on the Statistics Canada low-income chart, an applicant family may be eligible for up to $700 in assistance per child, per year.
This year to date, funding has been allocated to help 573 children attend camp, just short of the goal of 650.
Frego said that without the Sunshine Fund, his daughter would never be able to experience camp.
"I’m a single father of three kids, and I work four jobs — and even working four jobs and the kids, I have to pay child support, it’s still very difficult to support the kids with these kinds of activities," he said.
"So, when I have an opportunity to apply for something like this, it makes me very grateful that there’s companies out there and people that donate to do things like this because, on its own, I can’t afford to send all of my kids to camp like that."
Those who apply for funding receive assistance on a first-come, first-served basis, which is used to help children attend one of 31 camps listed on the Manitoba Camping Association website. When choosing what camp to attend, parents are encouraged to find one that suits their child’s interests.
When Frego told Jordan she would be going to camp, he was excited, too.
"When I told her and gave her that, it gave me a full sense of, like, pure happiness to give her something that she’s never done and she gets to experience something completely off her radar because, I mean, let’s face it: she’s 13, all she does is play on her phone and talk to her friends," he said.
"That’s the wrap of her life right now, so when you take that out, and be like, ‘Look, this is going to be off the grid, no-phone kind of thing,’ you’re going to be doing something completely different."