The Manitoba Camping Association and Sunshine Fund is sending more than 600 kids to camp thanks to a significant partnership with Canadian Tire Jumpstart, a national charity that helps children from financially disadvantaged families in Canada participate in organized sport and physical activities.

Recognizing the importance of giving kids from low income families the chance to go to summer camp, Jumpstart contributed $45,000. Through the partnership, kids will be able to participate in recreational activities, get physically active and gain experiences they wouldn't typically have. Last year, Jumpstart helped over 7,800 kids in Manitoba and has helped 28,457 since 2005.

“This may be the one recreational activity these kids participate in throughout the year,” said Liz Kovach, Executive Director, Manitoba Camping Association and Sunshine Fund. “At camp they try new things and for them it’s a break from the challenges of everyday life, so they start to gravitate to things that show them who they are and can be.”

The Manitoba Camping Association promotes personal growth and enrichment for children and youth aged six to 17 through the organized camping experience. Participating in group activities — from a week-long canoe trip outside of the city, to a day camp full of various activities at Assiniboine Park —  helps kids develop physical and social skills and build self-esteem. Through the Sunshine Fund, families with low incomes can apply for a camp subsidy to assist with the costs of sending a child to summer camp. The majority of families who apply for the program subsidy have a household income below $31,000 and are often single parents.

“Contributions from donors in addition to partners like Jumpstart are how we make this important experience happen for children and youth,” said Kovach.

“In 10 years, Jumpstart has helped almost a million kids learn, play and grow through sport,” said Jumpstart Executive Director, Landon French. “We are proud to partner with The Manitoba Camping Association and Sunshine Fund to provide Manitoba youth the opportunity to experience camp this summer – developing lifelong memories and friendships.”

The Manitoba Camping Association receives as many as 1,000 qualified applications per year from families across Manitoba hoping to send children to summer camp and always has kids on the wait list. The support through the Jumpstart Program will offset costs for about 650 kids to attend camps. Kovach hopes to give the camping experience to all children who have applied. Additional funds are still needed and the Sunshine Fund seeks further public support.

“This makes their summer and helps them develop skills that can last throughout their lives,” said Kovach who often receives thank you letters from the young campers.