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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Camp Sunshine at Sebago Lake Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Health, Health Care, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Founded in 1984, Camp Sunshine provides retreats combining respite, recreation and support, while enabling hope and promoting joy, for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families through the various stages of a child’s illness. Camp Sunshine is the only program in the nation offered year-round with the distinction of having been designed to serve the entire family in a retreat model. The program is free of charge to families and includes on-site medical and psychosocial support. Bereavement sessions are also offered for families who have experienced the death of a child from a supported illness.

Results: Over the past 35 years, Camp Sunshine has served more than 52,000 family members from 50 states and 27 countries.

Target demographics: Just as an illness does not target a specific demographic, Camp Sunshine's programs and support is available to all families, regardless of economic or cultural backgrounds.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 700-750 families, or 3,000 - 3,200 family members.

Geographic areas served: National / International.

Programs: Families of children diagnosed with cancer, hematologic conditions, renal disease, systemic lupus, those who have undergone solid organ transplantation, and families of children with other life-threatening illnesses attend illness-specific sessions of varying lengths. Families have the opportunity to solidify their relationships and meet others facing similar challenges. Bereavement programming is also provided for families who have lost a child to the illnesses served at Camp.

Community Stories

226 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Jerusha C.

Client Served

Rating: 5

When one of my twins was six months old, he lost his left eye to an extremely rare tumor called an intraocular medulloepithelioma. The tumor-type is so rare that we could not find information on it, including other people who experienced it. We turned to several retinoblastoma support groups, as that type of eye cancer is similar to the type my son experienced. Within those groups, someone referred us to Camp Sunshine. Although I had attended many fundraisers for Camp as a resident of Maine, I never thought I would have a child who would be going to Camp. We attended our first session in June of 2013, just three months after my son’s surgery. The twins were just ten months old and my oldest was not quite three. I was so nervous to go. I didn’t know what to expect or if I could even do it on my own (my husband couldn’t get time off to come). But I packed us up and went and I am so glad I did. Everyone was incredibly warm and welcoming. I met other parents and families dealing with the schedule of scans and ophthalmology appointments and occularist visits. I met other kids who had gotten through losing an eye to become amazing people. I met volunteers who took care of me and my children like we were family. I found a place of caring and respite. We made lifelong friends on that first visit and have continued to each time we attend. We have a network of Camp families and volunteers all over the country and all over the world.
I try to raise money for Camp at every opportunity. This is a program that is FREE OF COST for families. They house us, feed us, and provide activities and childcare. But what is truly priceless is the love we find every time we go to Camp.
Camp is a ray of sunshine when the darkness seems unbearable. It is a place of hope and a resource to us. I don’t know where we would be in our journey without it.

1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have been a volunteer for the past 17 years at Camp Sunshine. The friends I have made through the years both families and volunteers have made such a huge impact on my life. I look forward to going to Camp every year! I can't imagine my life without Camp, where the Sun shines all year round. Ariel Epstein Pollack

1 Robin C.4

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Sunshine is an amazing place to connect with other families who share your journey. Our family attended the oncology off treatment week and were able to meet other families with a child who has had cancer. This week offered activities for both parents and children to connect with others. I would highly recommend it.

1 Deborah A M.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

I discovered this organization shortly after my niece’s 12 year old daughter was diagnosed with lupus. She had suffered for most of year and was struggling every day to just keep going. The toll it took on her mother was also devastating as she felt helpless camp sunshine helped them find other families especially young children facing the same issues and the wonderful support, education, and ability to help the families learn how to once again enjoy life was transformative. Of great importance is that they were able to attend without charge since they raise funds for such support. My niece and her daughter would never have been able to afford it otherwise. Amazing organization!!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Sunshine is a place like no other! It is a wonderful retreat for the entire family. It helps you connect with others who know what you have been through and continue to struggle with. So much love at Camp Sunshine. Lots of tears shared along with laughs and smiles! ❤️

Susan Rodriguez F.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Sunshine is one of the greatest blessings we have received following our son’s cancer diagnosis. At 5 years old, our son was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer that required immediate removal of his left eye. Getting to be around other kids that have been through exactly what he’s been through is priceless. The rest of our family benefits greatly as well when we are able to share our experiences related to his cancer. Truly a one of a kind place and experience!

Sarah St J.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our infant daughter Sloan was diagnosed with a life-threatening liver disease called biliary atresia and she ultimately needed a liver transplant. This experience impacted every aspect of our lives and at times we felt very isolated. We were fortunate enough to attend Camp Sunshine along with numerous other transplant families not even a year after her transplant. This weekend was incredible. It united us with people who have been through similar situations, people who just "got it". It was a weekend full of compassion, love, listening, support and fun. The volunteers are amazing, the camp is beautiful and clean, and the food was great, too! We would recommend this camp to any family who has gone through something life altering and difficult. These memories will last forever and we can't wait to return, and for our daughter to grow up and make transplant friends that she can't wait to see at camp!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hands down--the best experience our family has ever had together. The staff and volunteers are incredible; they made us feel comfortable at every moment. The events were well thought out--with both child and adult participation. We all tried something new that week, and it was the most incredible feeling. Camp Sunshine is a treasured and precious memory for us during a very challenging time. We've made life-long connections and have already had several reunions with the group with whom we shared our time. We can't wait to go back and experience greatness all over again!

Client Served

Rating: 5

We attended Camp Sunshine June 2018. We had just completed treatment for our six year old daughter’s Wilms tumor. After a tumultuous 9 months we were able to travel as a family for the first time. We enjoyed bonding and sharing stories with other families facing similar situations. Life long relationships were formed. Thank you so much for such an awesome week together at Camp Sunshine!

Client Served

Rating: 5

My family attended Camp Sunshine for the 2018 Leukemia Week in early July and we are still blown away by how amazing this place is. The location is absolutely gorgeous, the facilities are great and the staff and volunteers are nothing short of amazing. Camp Sunshine is such a special place and I will be forever grateful for the wonderful experience they provided for my family.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We attended two camp sunshine Labour day weekend they were both awesome,Camp Sunshine rocks gives you a peace of mind while your there.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Sunshine was an amazing experience for our entire family. We attended the 2018 lupus camp, my 15 year old daughter having been diagnosed with lupus and nephritis in January. The camp experience touched each of us in a different way. For my husband I think it opened his eyes to the seriousness of this illness, and he was touched by each child and family's story. For my 17 year old son, he had an amazing time, being mixed into a group of older teenage kids both with lupus and siblings of a kid with lupus, and he made friends who may very well last a lifetime. For my daughter, she is still in the processing part of her disease. But she also got way more from the camp than she was expecting, and by mid-week was first one up ( a non-existent phenomenon at home!), was talking about coming back next year, and was shopping in the camp store for a Camp Sunshine sweatshirt. For me, I was able to see my family's transformation, and gain perspective. My daughter's illness has been devastating to me, but being amongst other families and seeing them coping and thriving has given me hope. Our entire family is looking forward to returning again next summer. This amazing organization is beyond amazing. I am so thankful for so many kind people who have been so very generous to have made this camp possible.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

To God be the glory, great things He has done. We are so grateful to God for how far He has brought us. We would also like to extend our gratitude to the organizers and everybody in Camp Sunshine for their great works. God bless you all.
It was indeed, a life changing moment for me and my son. We learnt a lot about ourselves and shared a lot with our friends. The best part for us was, we (my son and I) had the chance to share one of our best songs we have been singing every morning to exalt God and to encourage ourselves. It is not easy to be in the wheelchair and have a child with sickle cell but with GOD, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE. Sickle cell or no sickle cell, my son will live long and declare the goodness of the Lord. Indeed, this is a great family and a great community. Thank you all who made our stay a memorable one. God richly bless you.

Jesse H.1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Camp Sunshine has a special place in the hearts of my entire family. From my three children (who each have a life-threatening syndrome and love meeting others with the same syndrome) to my wife and me (who love meeting up with new and old friends all going through the same ordeals) to my parents (who volunteer each year at Camp Sunshine to help this wonderful organization). Camp Sunshine gives us a week away from all of the problems, a week to relax, learn, and bond with others. It is an amazing place!!

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our family attended the low grade brain tumor week July 2018. It was life changing. Both children enjoyed the activities from paddle boarding to ping pong. My son who has a brain tumor didn’t want to leave. It was the happiest he’s been in a long time. He finally felt accepted and comfortable with living with a brain tumor. Mid week he asked us to move to Camp Sunshine. After returning home the first thing he said when he woke up in the morning was “365 days to Camp Sunshine”. Staff and volunteers were loving, nurturing and genuinely committed to campers and families.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My family and I visited Camp Sunshine this August and they were exceptional. My kids loved it and my wife & I met a lot a great people, made a bunch of new friends. This is a top notch organization from top to bottom and I could not praise them enough for the good that they do and the kindness/love that they show every family that visits!

Angelique Freeman C.

Client Served

Rating: 5

We attended the low-grade brain tumor session in July 2018. The donors and volunteers of Camp Sunshine are second to none. They go above and beyond to provide a home away from home with a plethora of activities for kids, teens and adults alike. The staff made us feel very welcome and the amenities and food were much better than we had anticipated. When our flight got cancelled on the way home, they even secured arrangements for us at a local hotel and stayed in touch to make sure we reached our final destination the next day. My husband and son both came home with the highly coveted "love cup" trophy. It serves as a great reminder that Camp Sunshine's cup runneth over with love for all the families it serves and we are honored to be alumni.

Nicole N.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Our daughter Ciera was diagnosed with a rare type of Leukemia in 2014 at 18 months old. She remained hospitalized for 11 months and faced other health issues while battling cancer. She contracted pneumonia three times. She experienced double pneumothorax, emergency surgery, intubation and induced coma while on life support. Upon hospital release, (2 1/2 yr old) Ciera was place on homebound isolation for one year. Still incurring several hospitalizations for chemo, radiation, spinal taps, bone marrow aspirates, and nadar/neutropenia. Relatively out of the woods by age 4 1/2, Ciera’s family had never been on a true ‘family vacation.’ A social worker recommended the Norona family apply to Camp Sunshine. They flew us from Arizona to Maine and handled transfers to and from the camp site. Five glorious days our family of four spent together. Beyond any expectation Camp Sunshine provided us EXACTLY what we needed: time to recover, time to reconnect, time to replace fear with hope. And all under the capable hands of doctors on staff to help in a moments notice. Priceless is that piece of mind. Ever grateful for the experience, with love, The Norona’s

1 Andrea Lynn B.

Client Served

Rating: 5

August 2018, was the first summer my family has been to Camp
Sunshine. It was exactly what my family and I needed. The way they have camp set up and the activities they arrange, are all just so wonderful. Structured but flexible routines so all you have to do is show up, eat and have fun. Parents get to break off and do activities as a couple, reminding you both why your such a good team together. The kids, especially the siblings, get to break out and just be themselves not the brother/sister of the cancer kid. And then there is your cancer kid. They get to forget about their cancer for a moment and interact with kids and play games. These kids spend so much time in hospitals and around doctors and nurses that I think sometimes people forget that they are doing all of that instead of creating friendships at school, joining sports and learning to play well with others. This is their chance to do all of that in a safe space with caring people that understand. Those people, volunteers, are full of heart and have either walked in our shoes or been affected in some way by disease. They give of their time, energy and support because they know without it things could look a lot less sunny for the kids and the parents. Until there is a cure I'm so thankful for organizations like this one that support the body, mind and spirit of the entire family unit.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

My family and I attended the oncology session in July 2018 and I was truly amazed and overwhelmed by the outpouring of support not only from other families that were attending, but also the staff, they are the cream of the crop! Any family that is able to attend Camp Sunshine will not be disappointed there is always something to do and they make the families and kids feel unstoppable like they can take on the world! Thank you for bringing our family closer together!

Melanie Spittler