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This article was published 22/7/2017 (1193 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For some kids, amid all the big life changes that come with growing up, summer camp represents continuity.
One of those kids is 12-year-old Sarah Turnbull, who’s been going to Camp Wannakumbac at Clear Lake for the past five years.
This year, however, amid all the changes taking place in her life — including moving with her mother Shanna, 38, and her little sister Jessa, nine, to Minnedosa from Birtle — it wasn’t certain she’d be able to return to the camp she loves.
Money was tight and Shanna had hurt herself volunteering with her daughter’s baseball team, leaving her with a seriously sprained ankle, unable to work.
Thanks to the Sunshine Fund, however, Sarah not only just finished up her fifth summer at camp, but her little sister Jessa will be heading off for her first Camp Wannakumbac experience later this summer as well.
"The move has been really, really good for them," Shanna said. "But you still need to keep those common connections. Every year there are things they’re looking forward to, like certain things around Christmas for example. And Camp Wannakumbac is definitely one of those things for Sarah."
Shanna says in the frenzy of their move and a number of other changes taking place in their lives, she ended up turning in her daughters’ Sunshine Fund applications late.
It was the first time she needed to apply, so the process was new to her and they were still settling into their new home in Minnedosa.
She was worried her daughters might be unable to attend camp, but she says whenever she called the Sunshine Fund to check up on their applications, she was reassured by whoever happened to be on the other end of the phone.
When the letter came in the mail officially approving their application, Shanna described it as "an enormous relief."
"I’m very thankful to the Sunshine Fund for making this dream come true again for Sarah and for the first time for Jessa, when I wasn’t able to this year," Shanna said.
She went on to add if she’s ever in the financial position to help, the Sunshine Fund will be on her list.
As usual, Sarah loved her time at Camp Wannakumbac this year. In particular, she says she enjoyed a survival night where a bunch of girls got to experience camping out in the bush, as well as hiking through the trails of Riding Mountain National Park and learning about various plants.
"The people, they’re just so kind," said Sarah, who one day hopes to be a counsellor at the camp.
"You make friends every year and it’s hard to forget them."
Shanna says her youngest daughter Jessa is excited for her first camp experience later this summer, but at times can get nervous as well.
Thankfully, she has an older sister who’s been in her shoes before.
"Every once in a while she’ll get some trepidation about something," Shanna said.
"But her sister will explain it to her and say, ‘Oh no, that’s fine, this is what you have to do.’"
Every year, Shanna Turnbull has one daughter who can’t wait to go back to summer camp.
Next year, she’ll more than likely have two.
Ryan Thorpe likes the pace of daily news, the feeling of a broadsheet in his hands and the stress of never-ending deadlines hanging over his head.
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