Teen ex­cited to give back to camp

Winnipeg Free Press - - NEWS - Erik.pin­dera@freep­ress.mb.ca

FTER nearly a half-decade of go­ing to camp, 17-year-old Brett May is ready to give back.

He’s go­ing to Camp Arnes in the last week of July, where he will act as a crew leader — what he de­scribes as a step be­low a camp leader or coun­sel­lor.

Brett will be help­ing the younger chil­dren get their bear­ings; some of them may be at camp for the first time.

AHe says he thinks be­ing a leader will be easy — straight­for­ward. He has at­ten­tion deficit hy­per­ac­tiv­ity dis­or­der, which he says helps him be in tune with peo­ple’s emo­tions.

Be­sides, he says it’s good for him to give back — he wouldn’t have been able to go to camp if not for the Sun­shine Fund.

Brett’s mother, Can­dace Mitch­ler, is cur­rently on dis­abil­ity for a torn shoul­der. She’s a sin­gle mother of two (Brett and 11-year-old Shyan). They’re a low­in­come fam­ily, and with­out the Sun­shine Fund, she wouldn’t have been able to af­ford to send ei­ther child to camp — an ex­pe­ri­ence she says is im­por­tant.

“We’re on such a tight bud­get, the Sun­shine Fund is like an open door to so many op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Mitch­ler says. Op­por­tu­ni­ties such as learn­ing archery, paint­ball, or swim­ming in a lake. When Brett first learned how to shoot an air ri­fle, the camp coun­sel­lors first gave him a lighter ver­sion than the other chil­dren, let­ting him practise with some­thing eas­ier be­fore he moved on to the larger ri­fle.

Brett even learned how to ca­noe and portage through the rough ter­rain of north­west­ern On­tario.

“That’s the best part. He says, ‘I’ve portaged a ca­noe on my neck.’ It was all so new,” Mitch­ler says. “I’ve never gone to On­tario, but to get to this other is­land, they had to work as a team to get there — it’s just, with­out the Sun­shine Fund, he wouldn’t be learn­ing that.”

One skill Brett is par­tic­u­larly proud of is his abil­ity to start a fire with just metal, a pen­cil lead and a bat­tery.

If peo­ple can do­nate to the Sun­shine Fund, Mitch­ler sug­gests they do.

“The kids will thank you,” she says. Brett, who was still wear­ing a cast this week af­ter break­ing his arm at school, is ex­cited to get his cast off and go to camp at the end of July.

He’s made last­ing friend­ships at camp over the years, in­clud­ing three peo­ple he still cor­re­sponds with af­ter first meet­ing at Pi­o­neer Camp four years ago. Per­haps this year, he’ll make even more life­long friends.

ERIK PIN­DERA / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

Brett May, with mom Can­dace May shows off the piece of metal he learned how to start a fire with at camp.

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