As the last days of summer draw to a close, there have been many canoe trips, talks around the campfire and new-found friends for hundreds of Manitoba children who went to camp this summer thanks to Sunshine Fund donors.
"From year to year, without their support, the children wouldn't have the opportunity to go to camp," said Bryan Ezako, executive director of the Manitoba Camping Association and the Sunshine Fund.
This year, the association sent 739 children to camp who otherwise couldn't afford to go.
"You read some of (these kids') stories and the plights about what they've been through or some of the challenges they've faced in their day-to-day lives and you know for a fact that donors are making a huge difference in their lives," said Ezako.
However, it's been down to the wire this year to send the last children on the waiting list to camp, Ezako admits. Donations were lower than usual by 20 per cent, but he said the association still managed to place all remaining children in the last few weeks of August before school starts.
While the last few kids on the waiting list will get a week away at camp, Ezako still said they'll be short in donations to cover camp costs.
"Summer's not over and we're still counting on support to make the final push," he said.
Ezako said the contributions of Free Press donors, large and small, have made a big difference for hundreds of Manitoba children.
Paul Samyn, interim editor of the Free Press, agreed.
"We couldn't do it without them," he said. "As a former camp counsellor, I know how special the opportunity for a child to spend part of their summer at a camp can be. I've also worked with campers who got that opportunity through the Sunshine Fund, so it's wonderful to be part of …