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This article was published 23/8/2017 (301 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For nearly 70 years, Camp Wannakumbac has provided the quintessential summer camp experience to children and teenagers on the shores of Clear Lake.
A group of dedicated supporters has formed a new organization called Wannakumbac Circle to help guide the camp for generations to come.
"I love camp so much — it’s my favourite place in the world," said Joseph Boyle, chair of Wannakumbac Circle. "It means a whole lot to me, and I know it can mean a whole lot to a lot of other people too. So to be involved in this kind of permanent, perpetual way … is important to me."
Boyle, of Thunder Bay, Ont., started attending the camp in 2006 when he was about 12 years old. He enjoyed it so much that he returned as a staff member.
True to its name, the camp brings back former campers, counsellors and staff to its annual Family Camp — a reunion of sorts, that takes place on August long weekend.
The group held its first in-person meeting at this year’s event, where they formalized Wannakumbac Circle. Longtime supporter Neil Gamey was elected Wannakumbac Circle trustee.
"It’s really exciting for some of us that have been involved and associated with the camp for years," Gamey said. "There’s lots of people that have either worked there, their kids have gone there and just grown to love the place and everything that it stands for."
Camp Wannakumbac was established in 1948 by members of the Manitoba Federation of Agriculture, the predecessor to the Manitoba Farm Bureau and later Keystone Agricultural Producers.
It is run by the non-profit Wasagaming Foundation, which is made up of seven trustees representing: Federated Co-operatives, Manitoba Credit Unions, Keystone Agricultural Producers, Dairy Farmers of Manitoba, Co-op Hail Insurance, Parrish & Heimbecker, and the Manitoba Elks Foundation.
Plans are underway for Wannakumbac Circle to become the eighth trustee on the foundation.
NorvalLee, board member with the Wasagaming Foundation, said they are working through the process now.
"The trustees as a whole, some of them don’t know all that much about the camp," Lee said. "They’re very good supporters … but they’ve never been there themselves."
Bringing more people with a personal interest in the camp around the table will only be a positive addition, he said. Lee has been a foundation board member for close to 19 years, and was a camper back in the 1950s.
In order for Wannakumbac Circle to be represented on the board, there is a financial commitment required of approximately $3,500 annually.
"There’s always maintenance to be done," Lee said of the aging facility. "It’s easy to raise money for capital projects, but to raise money for maintenance is a little harder."
Corporate sponsors are important to the organization, as it helps keep fees affordable for campers.
Over August long weekend, more than 60 people signed up to be a member of Wannakumbac Circle, which includes a $100 membership fee.
"I think that just speaks to the loyalty and the commitment and the love for the place that some of us have had our whole life," Gamey said. "It’s just important that we have a way of formalizing our commitment — financially but also by having a trustee sitting on that group."
Gamey’s family has a long history with Camp Wannakumbac — not only did his parents meet at the camp, Gamey ended up meeting his wife there, too. The torch has been passed to their children.
Camp Wannakumbac, located near Riding Mountain National Park, offers co-ed weekly camps for children aged eight-15 over the course of the summer. Every year, hundreds of kids get to experience the great outdoors in the camp’s sprawling 164 acres. It is accredited by both the Manitoba Camping Association and the Canadian Camping Association. During the winter months, it is Riding Mountain Conference Centre.
Along with the recreational activities, Gamey said attending summer camp brings so many positives — it allows children to leave home, experience a new place and meet new friends.
"It’s just so unique to summer camp," he said. "I think because of that, we just have developed a love for the place and want to make sure it continues. For me, it’s always been part of my family and part of my history — an amazing part of my life."
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