Campership funds make Camp Manitou an inviting place for all kidsSeptember 14, 2020 1:33 pm
The experiences and adventure offered at Camp Manitou can have a lasting positive impact on the growth and development of kids and youth. It’s for that reason that Camp Manitou believes all children should have the chance to attend camp, and it’s why camp strives to make that a reality through its campership program, which helps bring kids to camp that might not normally have the opportunity.
Camp Manitou isn’t alone in believing in the benefits of the camp experience. This summer, a group of staff members from William Whyte School wanted to give one of their students, Geordana, the chance to attend camp.
“We wanted to give Geordana something exciting to look forward to during her summer break,” said Allie Smith, a school psychologist at William Whyte who was one of five staff who helped Geordana get to camp. “The time away from school can feel long and boring sometimes. She had never been to camp before and was excited about the idea. She deserves every enriching experience out there.”
Not only did the group help to get Geordana to camp by applying for a campership, they also committed to coordinating her travel for the week, with each of them taking turns driving the now Grade 6 student to and from the camp.
“Once I knew Geordana had the chance to attend day camp, I put out an email to staff at school who know her well, asking for their support with driving her each day,” said Smith. “Staff also coordinated with the family to make sure that Geordana had what she needed for camp, such as a bathing suit and towel, and so on.”
Geordana, of course, was thrilled to be going to camp and was most excited to try activities like swimming, fishing, and rock climbing. But with it being her first time at camp and not knowing many of the other campers, going to camp on the first day was a little nerve racking too.
“I was nervous at first, but it was easy to get used to being at camp,” said Geordana. “Making some friends was easy and the adults were really nice.”
After spending a week at camp, swimming and rock climbing were indeed among Geordana’s favourites and she happily spent extra time on those activities when camp staff arranged it. She was also able to try her hand at many new adventure activities, like ziplining and archery, and she was grateful for the camp staff who were always willing to help out whenever she needed them.
Another camper, Helena, also had a wonderful experience at camp this summer thanks to the help of a campership. For her, getting to go to camp was a dream come true after hearing the excitement of her older brother Dante when he would come home from Camp Manitou in past summers. Ever since Helena heard her brother’s stories, she’s been counting down the months until she was old enough to attend too.
Helena’s mother, Dana, knew that a camp experience would be extra valuable for her this year, given the pandemic and being apart from friends for so many months.
“It was important (for Helena to go to camp) because Helena has Autism Spectrum Disorder and needs socialization,” said Dana. “Because the schools closed early and she was unable to be with friends during the first part of the COVID-19 pandemic, she was very sad and depressed. She said she lacked any joy. So, when the camp opened under the provincial guidelines, I knew she had to go because the program offers fresh air, amazing activities, super great staff, and the opportunity to make new friends.”
Camp succeeded in providing all of that for Helena, and it was obvious to Dana from the moment she came home.
“My hope was that she would find her joy again and get some new skills and new friendships,” said Dana. “This was more than achieved. She can’t wait until she’s old enough to volunteer now.”
Smith had the same hope of bringing joy to Geordana’s summer, as well as helping her to grow and step outside of her comfort zone.
“We hope that Geordana made some good memories to share with her friends and family, and that she will remember this as a time she took a risk to try something new and it was worth it,” said Smith.
The risk was indeed worth it for Geordana, who already is recommending that other kids register to go to Camp Manitou next summer.
“I would get them a form to fill out. I think kids should try it out, because most kids would like it.”
Whether new to the camp experience and a little nervous about attending, or counting down the days until your next visit, Camp Manitou provides a supportive and inclusive environment for all kids – and camperships, made possible through donations and grants from groups like the Lions Club and The Winnipeg Foundation, only extend the welcome to even more youth.