Eight camps which have traditionally received Provincial funding have been denied that funding this year.

The camps are Winkler Bible Camp, Camp Koinonia, Camp Assiniboia, Camp Massad, Camp Arnes, St. Malo Catholic Camp and Camp Cedarwood. Each received no funding with a letter that stated their application was not approved - with no explanation.

The news came as quite a shock to camp directors when they received notification this crucial funding had been denied.

Manitoba camps apply for provincial funding each year through the Urban/Hometown Green Team program to provide the salaries for summer camp staff. This money can be used for all positions of staffing at the camps, except for lifeguards.

The Manitoba Camping Association (MCA) has 32 accredited camps in its organization association, with five located in northwestern Ontario.  Of the 27 accredited camps in Manitoba, nineteen camps have reported in. Eleven received a fraction of what they would normally receive. The above-mentioned eight were denied completely.

"So, camps are now in a panic as to how they're going to pay their staff," explains MCA executive director Kim Scherger. "Many camp jobs begin May 1st, and staff need to be hired by the end of February. The loss of up to $80,000 in funding will force camps to decide how to rework budgets, meaning job loss or program cancellation." 

"This came with no warning, just here you go, you're denied, or it's been slashed, this is what you get, congratulations," she adds. "And now camps are scrambling asking how we are going to provide for our staff, how are we going to provide for all our programming if we don't have the staff come and be trained, and more senior staff will have that experience to take care of the kids and provide those camping programs for kids."

"The camps who would normally get funding have received it over the past 3-4 years," she explains. "During the pandemic a lot of our camps started applying for this funding, because overnight camp programs were not allowed for two years. The provincial government at the time, the PC's (Progressive Conservatives), were very good in providing a lot of funding. The camps still had to apply for it, so they got funding for staff.  Some had already applied before that. This funding has been around, I think, since the late 1990's. But most of our camps have really gotten on board over the last 3-4 years, so they had assumed by applying for it this year, with no warning that things had changed for them, that they would get the similar kind of funding they received in past years."

When looking at those camps who received funding, if even a fraction, in comparison to those who were completely denied, Scherger says there is no pattern and no reason given.  "Some religious camps were denied, and some religious camps received funding."

“Because we start programming now, we have already hired staff and therefore will not turn any away but will be much more in debt,” said Nadya Langelotz, Camp Assiniboia program director: a camp that was denied funding. 

Scherger says summer camps are a huge factor in children, youth and young adults’ mental health. “With Green Team funding at zero dollars for many of our camps, and their need to now cut back on quality, experienced staff and programming, after still facing debt from the pandemic, how is this good for anyone’s mental or physical health?” she asked.

What can the public do to help their favorite camp?

Scherger suggests reaching out to camps and ask how they can help, either through volunteering, or financial donations.  Also petitioning the government about the importance of summer camp for children and families, as well as seniors, and additional adult programs, including special needs, that take place in the summer months.