H'yall, I've been volunteering at Camp Sunshine since the late 1980's, and will continue as long as the car and the body make it up north, now that I am retired. Just love it. My short, but wonderful story: When I arrived at camp for a session this year, a small boy ran over to me with a huge smile and a big hug, laughing and saying "Jeanie, Jeanie, you're here again, and so am I." "Will you be with the 6-8 (year old) kids?" I answered "yes" and he pointed to himself, and said "that's still me." "Hurry up and come say hi to my Mom and Dad. They want to see you." "This is so really great," he said.
How can anyone beat that for a beginning of a Camp Sunshine session.... And this is what Camp Sunshine is all about. New families, returning families, and great volunteers and staff. All sharing a love for children and wanting to make it the very best experience for everyone.
I've volunteered at Camp Sunshine since 1997. To say its been a wonderful experience is an understatement. The staff is amazing in making each families experience such a special one. The volunteers are so selfless and giving. We bond into a family for each session. I fall in love with the children and parents each session I volunteer. I've met so many wonderful families and volunteers who have become very dear friends. Camp Sunshine is exceptional.
My family and I have been to Camp Sunshine twice. The camp and their volunteers and staff are wonderful, caring, sharing people. We go for Fanconi Anemia Family Meeting, held by Fanconi Anemia Research Foundation (FARF). FARF hosts this annually, where the kids (and few adults) with this serious disorder, and their siblings, get to frolic and interface with others in the same boat -- a rare chance to gain a sense of support and camaraderie. The parents also get this great opportunity, and FARF is a close, expert, and vital organization that presents a dozen seminars, bringing in experts in FA and BMT from around the world.
Camp Sunshine staff and volunteers take care of everything, so families can REALLY take a break! The first time at Camp was full of emotions for me. The kids said it was the best experience they'd ever had -- they had lived two years knowing only two families in the "same boat" as them (FA), and were blown away by the gathering of 70 FA families, with a chance to share common challenges and triumphs with folks who had no knowledge of the genetic disorder and associated conditions. I was still grappling with acceptance of the hand my daughter had been dealt, with the enormous learning I had before me to become my child's best advocate, and the information I gained through the expert seminars and personal meetings with them throughout the week was a bit overwhelming. I gained a lot of strength and hope, too, from being close with so many families and experiencing what they do to cope and persevere.
The second time at Camp was amazing, so much better. Friendships were forged, learning of the advances and best practices was easier and much enhanced, and seeing the dedication of the scientific and medical experts giving of themselves brought a lot of serenity and hope to me. Thank you, FARF, for the wonderful thing you do for our kids, and THANK YOU SO MUCH Camp Sunshine, for creating a place where we can come together, a place where hundreds of volunteers can give of themselves so freely -- can impart upon families happiness, a sense of caring, fun, and HOPE. Kelly Adams, Colorado.
Our family attended the Annual Family Meeting of the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund for the first time this past August. Camp Sunshine hosts this 5-day event each year, and it was an amazing experience. I can only describe the Camp Sunshine Staff and 100 volunteers that made this gathering possible as EXCEPTIONAL. The camp itself is a resort, the nicest camp I've been to in my life. The people were amazingly warm and caring -- the camp staff were so well-trained and organized, and the enormous group of volunteers that carried out the full schedule of events treated all of us attending the camp with enthusiasm, patience, the utmost respect, and genuine love. It was a very memorable experience, and I cannot say how fortunate I feel that Camp Sunshine does this for our Fanconi Families! What a blessing they are. Thank you SO MUCH, Camp Sunshine. Kelly Adams, Colorado Springs, Colorado.
As a volunteer I have never been treated so well. The staff appreciate the hard work that we do on behalf of the children and their families.
The camp is a happy place where kids can be kids, no matter what illness they are struggling with. Their families find others who know what they are going through.
I have been a volunteer Camp Sunshine since 1998. My time at Camp Sunshine has been among the best of my life.i've seen some amazing things there and met some wonderful people. The staff and the volunteers there are genuine ,caring people, and some have become some of my closest friends. I believe so much in the mission of Camp Sunshine that I can hardly wait to go each year. Volunteering there has enriched my life ,and I'm grateful to have found Camp Sunshine
In June 2012, our daughter was diagnosed with a low grade brain tumor. 6 weeks later, our family spent a week at Camp Sunshine. We met about 30 other families going through the same thing and many of them have become close friends. The support and love offered to the families by the staff and volunteers is unparalleled. We were blessed to be able to attend another week at Camp Sunshine this past summer and it felt like a family reunion. Having a week spent with people that truly understand the trials and tribulations of being a cancer family is such a reenergizing experience. Plus, to have a week of fun for the whole family is just amazing. :)
In May 2006 our daughter Olivia was diagnosed at the age of 7 with Osteosarcoma, a bone tumor in her knee. After a year of debilitating treatment and a leg salvage surgery which left her wearing a prosthetic in order to walk, our famliy was burnt out. I had spent the greater part of a year in the hospital with Olivia and my husband had spent his time working and taking care of our 3 year old Camille. We were ready for some family time and some fun. In June 2007 we went to Camp Sunshine where we were pampered, loved and rejuvinated. We have been back many many times since then, and always it is just what our family needs. Now that the kids are older, we are volunteering at Camp and are happy to share what camp has done for us with families that are still in need of the love and nuturing that Camp Sunshine offers. They are the best at what they do and they never stop trying to improve the facility, the programs and themselves. b.
My son and I have been blessed to have been able to attend Camp Sunshine for several years. I cannot express how wonderful it has been to have a place to meet with other families going through the same difficulties. The volunteers are terrific, and it is a pleasure to not have to worry about whether or not my child is getting adequate care when I am in adult sessions. He thinks Camp Sunshine is fantastic, and neither of us can wait to return each year.
After volunteering at Camp for 5 years I took up an internship position over the summer working behind the scenes, and all it did was make Camp sunshine even more magical for me. Every single person, and I emphasize that I mean EVERY person, involved with Camp Sunshine is nothing short of amazing. Camp Sunshine to me represents a different world, one that I wouldn't mind living in forever. From the families to the volunteers to the staff, there is a great sense of family and togetherness that for me, only exists in one small piece of land in Casco, ME. If every other organization is rated from 1-5 stars, Camp Sunshine gets a sixth.
Camp Sunshine is truly one of a kind. It is tough to readjust to the real world after being at camp, because it seems like an entirely different world. After five years of volunteering I have seen the long term impact of Camp Sunshine on families; how it represents a community to them, a place where they finally have the time to be happy again. Families and volunteers come from not only all around the country, but from around the world for this one of a kind experience that they will never forget. There is not a cause in this world I am more passionate about than what Camp Sunshine does for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. I would have given them 100 stars if I could have!
My husband and I have volunteered at Camp Sunshine for the last 7 years and we look forward to our colunteer week each year. We love being able to provide a wonderful vacation for these families that otherwise might not take a vacation due to their child's illness. In all honesty, I think we get more out of the experience than the families do, we get to meet great friends, keep in touch with some wonderful families, watch children grow, and make people smile all while having fun ourselves. The Camp offers lots of activities for kids and adults alike, the staff is very hands on and involved, you can always find someone to assist you when needed, and the volunteers are attentive and top-notch. We have also given financially to Camp and have encouraged others to volunteer or donate as they could.
I have volunteered at Camp Sunshine for the last 13 years and each experience has been a gift to me. It is more that a week respite for the children and their families, it is like going back home. The camp staff, volunteers, and families stay connected and feel like a family. I heard parents remark that their children would rather come to camp than go to Disney World! It is a stellar organization that maximizes every dollar donated.
My son was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he is two. We're grateful that he is in remission but his treatment course was challenging and he is still dealing with side effects of his disease and treatment. Camp Sunshine is a sanctuary for our family and a place of healing and renewal. It has been instrumental for our older son, who was marginalized when everybody pays attention to his "miracle" little brother. We can't say enough about how amazing this place is and how well run it is. Colin, our patient, has had the biggest physical improvements after visiting camp. He's outgoing and social, but he truly blossoms when we are at camp and his disabilities are not unusual and all of the kids are embraced. His older brother, Aidan, is more quiet and cerebral and does not easily feel comfortable in places. However, he has found a place at camp and a constructive path to ward healing and belonging. As parents, we love feeling like we are part of a community where we can actively participate and share with other families.
My family and I had our first experience at Camp Sunshine in August 2012 when we attended the Annual Family Meeting put on each year by the Fanconi Anemia Research Fund. What I experienced was a wonderful staff and resort! I was very moved by the loving staff and volunteers, the excellent organization of events, and the feeling of welcome and inclusion I felt. It was a week of widely varying emotions for my family and me, meeting so many FA families. Parents attended a very comprehensive array of seminars and presentations, while the children were engaged by over 100 volunteers doing everything from golf to archery to a sleepout in the yurts. My son said it was the most awesome experience he ever had. I was so thankful for the professional staff -- their experience in facilitating meetings on tough topics, and their approachability and caring made all the difference in the world! Thank you so much, Camp Sunshine, for the difference you make in our families’ lives! Kelly Adams, Colorado Springs, Colorado
My son was diagnosed with leukemia in 2004. He was only 2.5 years old. It was overwhelmingly difficult time for the family. We were recent immigrants and couldn’t count on anyone for help us. Camp Sunshine gave us warmth, hope, and joy. It became our extended family. It was the place where were always welcomed and understood. It helped our children to heal emotionally and physically. I am so grateful for everything that Camp Sunshine and all volunteers have done for us!
It was in May 1988 that my 3 year old son was diagnosed with Leukemia. At the time, Camp Sunshine was a very small camp but it was a healing place for my family. My son is doing well and he became a physician himself. I and my husband never forgot Camp Sunshine and we volunteered several times. I watched how the old staff and the newer staff are dedicating their time and energy to make the camp an inviting, warm, informative place for so many people. May Camp Sunshine continue to be there for so many.
Camp Sunshine has been wonderful for the healing of our family. My daughter is a leukemia survivor she had a compromised immune system for a long time. We were not able to do things that most normal families could do. Camp Sunshine is a place for us to relax and enjoy ourselves and also connect with families who have gone through or are going through the same ordeal we are. The staff is amazing and the volunteers truly make Camp Sunshine a magical place. We love Camp Sunshine!
Review from CharityNavigator
Camp Sunshine was an amazing place. The camp has allowed my daughter, who had a heart transplant, to feel at home where she was free to be herself with out explanation or feel like an outcast. Children don't get looked at oddly when on steroids or other drugs that change their appearance. Surgical scars aren't pointed out. Families don't get harassed when they can't attend an activity. No one has to explain anything. It's a break from being different, as a child and as a family. We are all in a club of families who have a child with chronic health issues. No one signed up for this, it's what we were dealt in life. Camp member parents do have the opportunity to share in parent group time. We can let our guard down, share our fears and realize we are not the only family feeling the same things. While we are sharing, our kids are boating, swimming, painting or doing skits with staff and great volunteers. Family time is balanced during talent shows, meals and special camp activities. Parents even get to date, as a dinner dance is put on for them, while the kids either camp out, share treats at a bon-fire or relax for movie night. The games they have the adults and kids play are ridiculously funny. Life is uplifting and so much fun at Camp Sunshine. New friends are made and the bonding is unlike any other experienced. I experienced heaven on earth while I was there as a parent. It brought my family closer. Both my daughter and son enjoyed their experience meeting others from all over the globe. Camp Sunshine is a home away from home with out all the additional life stressors.
Amazing!!! Camp Sunshine has been an amazing place for our family. We have made incredible connections and have memories to last us a lifetime. During a cancer journey every member of the family needs support in a different manner and Camp Sunshine provides just that. I recommend Camp to every family that has to travel this difficult journey.
Camp Sunshine is ONE OF A KIND!!! More than ever this world needs more places like Camp Sunshine to serve families! Their philosophy and commitment in "doing the right thing" and "paying it forward" far exceeds any other nonprofit out there!! THANK YOU CAMP SUNSHINE!!!
I have had the blessing to be able to volunteer for a number of different organizations throughout the years including Camp Sunshine, Habitat for Humanity, The Boston Food Pantry and even a few organizations in Zimbabwe. Camp Sunshine has far exceeded all of these organizations for professionalism and overall organization. That, coupled with the concept of serving not only the ill children but also catering to the entire family of the children makes Camp Sunshine a truly unique organization. The experiences and relationships my wife and I have enjoyed at camp will stay with us the rest of our lives. Every session at camp guarantees us another lifetime memory and we look forward to serving Camp Sunshine as long as we are able to. Camp Sunshine is truly an amazing organization that we are proud and honored to be involved with!
Camp Sunshine has provided our family with something no other place has been able to -- an environment where everyone understands what we're going through as a family, and where each and every family member received the understanding and support they need. We have attended two oncology sessions, and to have a teenager enthusiastically ask when we're going back and spending time together as a family is truly something special. Words cannot describe what this camp, and its wonderful volunteers have given us. Thank you, Camp Sunshine!
When we felt like the only family in the world faced with all of our daughter's medical issues, we were sent on a short get away to Camp Sunshine. It changed our world to meet others facing similarconditions and trying times. For a little while, we were able to feel "normal" again and relax while our daughter still received the care she needed. What a blessing for any family to receive!
Review from CharityNavigator
I first started volunteering at Camp Sunshine seven years ago. To say that Camp Sunshine is the best place for families would be an understatement. Camp Sunshine IS the place to be for families going through difficult times due to illness. Camp gives families the opportunity to get away from the pain and worries for one week, and reunite as simply just a family. As a volunteer, I have met many familes and have kept in touch with so many of them as well. For me, I return every year because sometimes I need to be reminded of how good I have it and that children are going through things that I could never even imagine going through as an adult. The smiles, the laughter, the fun, the families, and the staff are what makes this the best place to be. This was truly a life-changing, humbling experience. I have learned so much from the kids. Unfortunately, due to illness in my family, I have not been able to go since last year, but it is where I will be this summer. Beth Gervais
There is no other place like Camp Sunshine. Our family traveled from CA to Maine to participate in the family camping program. My youngest son was diagnosed with Retinoblastoma, a rare eye cancer, when he was an infant. We joined other families with Retinoblastoma at Camp Sunshine. The program was an amazing social opportunity for my son who was previously very cautious and fearful. He did activities at camp that I never thought he would venture out and try. It was an amazing family experience.
Review from CharityNavigator
Our family first discovered Camp Sunshine back in 2007 when our daughter was battling leukemia. We came to camp ravaged by our experiences with cancer. But Camp Sunshine was/is and always will be a safe haven that provided us respite, offered support, restored our strength, gave us hope, and best of all brought joy and laughter back to our children.
Camp Sunshine is a very special place for our family. We adopted our daughter at age 2. She had had a liver transplant at age 6 months. When we first arrived at Camp Sunshine when she was 4 years old, we had never even met another family with a child with a transplant. The very first person that we met was a Volunteer with a kidney transplant who helped us with our bags and getting settled into our room. We learned more in the first half-hour at Camp Sunshine than we had in the previous 1.5 years! The encouragement that we received from Camp Sunshine Volunteers, Families and Staff has made all the difference in our family's well-being. Now that we are an "experienced" transplant family, we are able to be an encouragement to family newer to the transplant process. None of this would be possible without the generous support of Camp Sunshine Donors. We love Camp Sunshine!
It is very hard to put into words what Camp Sunshine means to our family. Our family is lucky enough to attend the Bereavement Sessions at Camp Sunshine. From the moment our family walks through those 3 doors we are "home." It is a place that we have found such friendship and support. It is a place where each of our family members feel that they belong and that they are loved. One would think a place filled with people who have lost children would be the most depressing place on Earth, when in fact it is the complete opposite. It is a place where yes sometimes there is crying, but mostly laughing! Our children have so much FUN at Camp! They have so many activities that anyones interests are please. Our children would like to share a few of there personal favorites- Art and Crafts Room, the pool. rock climbing wall, the "Teen Room", and sleeping in a "Yurt". We also enjoy the opportunity to talk about our experience of going through the journey of cancer with our daughter and now they journey of our grief. It is the only place my children agree to sit and talk with a professional about what they are going through. This is because it is a place of fun first, and healing at the same time. We have a count down to each session that we are lucky enough to be able to attend, and we hope the Camp Sunshine remains a part of our lives forever.
I can never put into words how great Camp Sunshine is; not any words that do it justice at least. This place is amazing. Volunteering there has provided me with so many opportunities, and because of Camp Sunshine, I have been able to figure out a career path. Camp Sunshine has made me want to be an advocate for childhood cancer research and to hopefully be a PA for pediatric oncology some day. I would recommend volunteering here to anyone because it is an unbelievably rewarding experience. I have met some of the most amazing people here and have developed many lifelong friendships. The strength of the families is beyond inspiring and everyone should have the opportunity to experience the magic that Camp Sunshine brings to life.
Review from CharityNavigator
I can't say enough about Camp Sunshine. This is a very well run family camp that just happens to specialize in helping kids and families with a life threatning illness. The greatest thing about our experiences at Camp Sunshime was that for that week our daughter was surrounded by friends that "get it" they understand how she feels and what she has to do each and every day and it has been wonderful for her to have met some lifelong friends that she can turn to when she needs it.
I was a camper at Camp Sunshine in 1990 and have been volunteering since 2004. It is truly a life changing place. They have given me a chance to take my own experiences and use what I have learned to help others. Families of children with chronic illnesses face so many challenges, and camp gives them time to spend time together without stress. Siblings are placed with children their own age and parents can have fun while also joining in support groups. I think that many families facing pediatric illnesses feel that they are alone but camp helps them to build relationships with people who are experiencing what they are. I love Camp Sunshine dearly, and really think that they deserve this recognition.
Camp Sunshine is an amazing and life changing experience. It is a safe haven for the entire family struggling with a child's life-threatening illness. The camp is a FUN place for all, but also a very supportive and "normal" place for the family. All the families that attend during the week share a similar yet very different story. They have this place to share their story, be heard, and most importantly, be understood. As a volunteer, it is so powerful to see how this camp leaves a such a feeling of hope and love in all who attend. It's a true transformation that takes place right before your eyes. This place is a tremendous blessing to all. It is a place you WANT to keep coming back to year after year.. so amazing.
There are no words for this place. That is how amazing it is. Me and my family have been there so many times and we love it every time and we keep wanting to come back. You meet other families there that have been through the same experience all while having fun. It is one my favorite places in the world and I always feel happy there no matter how many other things are going on. My brother loved it there and it has such an important place in our hearts. The work that is done there is life changing.
Camp Sunshine is one of the greatest places on earth. I started volunteering there in August 2010, and went back for 5 more sessions before June 2011 (when I moved out of the area). I have met life-long friends at Camp, and miss it every day! I can't wait to get back to volunteering there in the near future. If you ever need a place to donate time or money to - this is it!
My daughter, several students and I have been volunteering at Camp Sunshine each February for the past five years. It is the most loving, caring, place I have ever been. The staff is wonderful, the families inspirational. If Camp Sunshine was closer to home, there is no doubt that I would spend a lot more time there.
We found camp after our battle with cancer was over but just as our battle with life changing late affects from the chemo and radiation started. I can not adequately express what camp sunshine means to us as a whole family. for the siblings, the patient and the parents its a safe place to be who you are, receive support and be understood. I always leave with courage and hope to face another year. the volunteers are AH MAY ZING! the staff is selfless, the whole place is just a respite from the world. and a safe place to throw your hurts down, examine them and get help on how to heal.
Camp Sunshine offers our family a place to be with other families that truly understand what we are going through. There is so much love and support from other campers and volunteers. Our kids also have a place to be with other kids that know what it is to lose friends, struggle with disabilities, and look different. None of it matters at camp. Everyone is accepted and has the chance to perform on stage to show their talent and hear the cheers from the crowd. This is an amazing and magical place. We are so grateful for the opportunity to attend this place and make friends from across the country.
I found Camp Sunshine through my high school's Key Club. Groups of students from my school have gone and volunteered, and even as many of us graduate this year, I am sure that we will continue to come. Camp Sunshine very clearly makes a huge difference in the lives of everyone who comes there, whether as a volunteer or as a family member. It has a positive environment where everyone feels comfortable, welcome, included. People enjoy themselves, the kids feel special, and the adults connect with other people going through similar situations and have the pleasure of seeing their children having such an amazing time. Everyone benefits. This place is difficult to describe because it is absolutely so amazing. Coming to camp helps people just as much as any medicine would; it is an incredible experience. I donate to Camp Sunshine, and I really recommend supporting this program. It changes lives.
Currently my family volunteers at Camp Sunshine, but our first introduction to Camp was as a family with a sick child. Whether you are a family member being catered to by Camp Sunshine, or a volunteer, Camp Sunshie truly is a magical place. Where else can the entire family feel cared for in every way possible? Camp provides a full array of camp activities, three full meals a day, evening entertainment, time to talk with other parents of sick children with a supportive psychosocial director, and if all this was not enough, there is a doctor on-site to care for any medical needs that may arise! My children have fun every time they attend camp! The volunteers are amazing and the smiles on the campers' faces reflects the spirit of Camp!
It's very difficult to convey what Camp Sunshine means to me, because it's simply incomparable to anything else I've done in my short years. I began my Camp Sunshine journey at 17 years old. I am now 24 and can't imagine life without multiple yearly 3-hr drives to Camp. From the staff, who have remembered my name since 2006 even though I only go up a couple of times a year, to the families who accept and embrace my help and sentiments and hope, even though I can't truly know what it is they go through, there isn't one thing about Camp Sunshine that's left me unsatisfied. Volunteering at Camp grounds me - I leave grateful for my health, my family, my LIFE. I leave humbled and admittedly, often heartbroken that these wonderful, strong, selfless families suffer. But it is things like Camp Sunshine that ease their suffering, or at least that's what they tell us, and in that I can find solace knowing that I've helped in the slightest. But - it isn't about my satisfaction or solace, it's about the families, and Camp Sunshine is quite simply such a stellar place full of so many worthwhile humans you can't help but become overwhelmed with emotion. Explaining what makes this a "stellar" organization would take all day, but let me share this short anecdote: This November at a bereavement session, there was a balloon launch, which is an event for families and volunteers to remember siblings, children, friends and loved ones who have passed away. I didn't have to furiously struggle to hold back my tears, as I feared I would have to, because even though there were many tears falling, it was still a moment of celebration, albeit bittersweet celebration. As the graffiti-ed white balloons rose into the air above the lake, a toddler yelled to her sister to "Make sure you take a good look at it - I don't want you to miss any of my message." That's Camp Sunshine - it might be heart-wrenching, but you'll never be alone here and if you want to yell (or scream or cry) up to the sky, there will be a beach full of family supporting you always.
Last summer was our fiist time at Camp Sunshine. We came from Italy and we don't speack English very well but we found that all people try to trust with us and and it got cheerflull. We thank you all staff (physicians and volounteers) for all that have given and the opportunity to meet other family like us. Now we knows that there is a place where we can find helpful and safety. Domenico Bertolucci
Thinking of Camp Sunshine and what it means to my family is very emotional. This was our first excursion as a family after my daughters diagnosis with Leukemia and from the moment we arrived we know we were in the right place. We were so well cared for and made several return trips, each time leaving rested and better prepared to deal with the rigors of our cancer battle. The programs were so helpful to us all. Camp Sunshine carried us through three years of cancer and we will always be a Camp Sunshine family.
Camp Sunshine is a special place that really makes a difference in the lives of all who attends. My son has a rare disease and for a week at Camp Sunshine, he is with other kids and families that understand and love him. The volunteers and staff make a wonderful experience for kids and the parents mingle with each other and learn valuable information. My kids say it is the best place on earth. One of the best organizations there is.
I never seem to explain what Camp Sunshine means to my son and I properly. How do you explain such a place to someone who is not familiar with Camp Sunshine? For my son and I it has been a brick in our foundation as we deal with illness that most can simply not understand. When my son tears up as we drive away everytime, and a new countdown starts for the next time we will attend, you know how special Camp Sunshine is. Camp Sunshine is not #4, $5, or whatever it is ranked right now. It should be #1, and nothing less.
Camp Sunshine is exactly that - a bright, sunny, happy place to be! It starts with the counselors who are amazing with genuine heart and soul. The kids feel it and the parents cherish it. For my pre-teen to reluctantly come to Camp complaining all the way, just convinced he won't have a good time - to now - at almost 13 wondering why it's only once a year! Truly makes an impact on the children with life threatening diseases - making them feel 'normal' and having fun all at the same time!! Fantastic. GO CAMP SUNSHINE! :)
Last week we were blessed again with a trip to Camp Sunshine. The final night of camp is a special night where they have a Celebration Show, which includes a trip down to the lake to launch the kids’ Wish Boats. Wish Boats are made by the kids during the week. They all have a candle (at least one) on them. The candles are lit and the kids all push them out into the water. Everyone then has a chance to make a wish. It’s a powerful moment – probably mostly for the parents. Each boat is a unique reflection of the owner and his or her experience. The boats are personal creations. The ceremony is a great moment of quiet reflection and positive group thinking. I like to think that all those wishes will definitely come true!
Camp Sunshine is a magical place. There always seems to be one or more “Camp Sunshine Moments” during the week. This trip was not an exception. One of the first time campers, Aaron, is a 6 year old boy with Leukemia. He is still in treatment but has just recently lost his hair. Apparently it all fell out over the course of one or two days. He was very self-conscious about it and started wearing a baseball hat almost 24x7. His parents could not seem to get him over it no matter what they tried. So, that’s how he showed up to Camp Sunshine and that’s how he went to his group session on the first morning. That’s how he was at the end of the first day too and he went to group the next morning with his hat on. But when his parents picked him up for lunch on the second day, there he was, running around with no hat on!! His parents were shocked and did not know what to say. I don’t think I saw him wear a hat again for the entire rest of the week. Amazing change in attitude and feeling. Aaron was able to feel ‘normal’ again and was in a place where he didn’t feel different from everyone else. He was back to himself. For me, Aaron was healed just a little bit during his trip to Camp Sunshine. And to see healing taking place right before your eyes –man, that hits you square in the forehead. Then it drills right into your mind and travels all the way down into your heart. It becomes part of you. It changes you. It changes you forever.
You would think that a group of cancer kids and cancer families all in one place for a week would be a bit of a downer. Sometimes it is. You look around and see how many people are there (so many!). You look at all the names of families that have been there before you (too many!). Little bald heads running around. Wheelchairs, artificial legs, medical tubes. But I gotta tell you, being surrounded by these kids is more uplifting than you can imagine. Look further and you see other things. Kids running around laughing and playing. Those little bald heads have smiles on them! Kids with no hats on anymore! Counselors giving piggy back rides. Support, love, and caring is all around. People hugging. Everyone helping everyone. Small moments of calm for a Mom and Dad – sitting in the Adirondack chairs on the front porch. Look around and you realize that healing is taking place all around you.
Maybe the camp is named not for the sun up in the sky, but for all the sunshine bursting out of the hearts and smiles of the campers, the families, the volunteers, and the staff!
We started going to camp Sunshine to volunteer as a family in 2004 and have continued ever since, we wouldn't think of missing a year. our church group started the ball rolling with 5 volunteers and it's since grown to over 15 church members going...........every year someone else decides to go and keeps going. i really think this gave my daughter a direction in life She now knows the feeling of giving back and helping others. we have made some wonderful friends over the years and know we'll always want to continue.
Camp Sunshine is by far the most amazing place on earth. When I first volunteered at camp I left there with a whole new look on life. Camp Sunshine truly changed my life. It made me so appreciate for everything I have and I met the most amazing, strong, funny and appreciative people I have ever met. Camp Sunshine has become my favorite place in the world and each and every time I go I leave feeling rewarded and like I truly helped impact these families lives for the better. I honestly believe that everyone should volunteer at Camp Sunshine because I guarantee it would change their lives forever.
Started at Camp Sunshine when my 12 yr old daughter got Leukemia (2005). I wouldn't wish this disease on anyone but without it I would never have experience the enormous love & compasion we received from the staff & volunteers at Camp. The best cross-section of humanity that I've ever encountered. We loved it as a family. It had emotional healing for everyone not just my daughter. Kids bonded immediately with the others. Never, ever found a better environment for siblings of sick kids. They get left behind so much during the treatments, but not at Camp. Parent share advice. What has worked, what hasn't. You can't get that kind of feedback from doctors. Then when we returned, it was if no time had elapsed, we picked up right where we left off. They are family. Now returning as a volunteer. I love giving back to the place that helped us out so much. One my top ten places on earth. Truly life-changing. Go Camp Sunshine!
The first time I heard about Camp Sunshine, I knew it was a place where I wanted my family to volunteer. We started with my husband and I as volunteers, and my children as campers. After that first year, there was no doubt that we would be back every year we could. Now my whole family volunteers. It is a given that Camp Sunshine is part of our summer. My famiily is able to share a magical experience while building our seperate friendships among the volunteers and families attending camp. All of our lives have been changed for the better because of camp. I have heard each of my kids comment. seerately, that there is no other place like Camp Sunshine and they can't imagine their lives without th e time we spend there. The work that is done at this camp is extraordinary. Children who feel they have no one who understands their illness call camp "HOME." Parents who carry the sadness and fear for their children can find commonalities and support from each and every person there. You see many unlikely friendships at camp. Why - because the people who run Camp Sunshine do an amazing job at giving support, respite and fun to each and every person.
I went to camp for the first time in September. Not knowing what to expect I arrived nervous and anxious, but after 10 minutes of being there I was embraced by other happy volunteers all wanting to get to know me. I had the most amazing tme at camp and I tell everyone I run into about my time there. I was fortunate to be with the 6 to 8 year olds who were more full of life and happy than any children I have ever met. I was able to connect with the kids and families ans share stories and memories with them. I cried when I had to say goodbye to my campers and other volunteers!!! They were also tears of joy because of the amazing time I had and it was the first time I had ever felt like I truly made a difference in the lives of others. What's even better is that I still keep in touch with the families and the volunteers and we are all going to try to go to the same session next year! Camp sunshine is truly an amazing and inspiring place.
The opportunity to be a repeat volunteer at Camp Sunshine is one of the best experiences I've ever had. Bonding with entire families is amazing. Bringing the whole family to camp provides the opportunity for each member to interact with others that are going through the same ordeal. It offers an atmosphere of fun and support. I am honored to have met some of the bravest people ever. The kids can be 'just kids' and the parents can laugh and enjoy a special family memory. I love Camp Sunshine and encourage anyone who has a week or a long-weekend opportunity to make their way up North, and arrange to volunteer.
We just attended Camp Sunshine for the first time this fall and it was an experience we will never forget. We were able to meet for the first time, other families who have the same rare condition as our son, which was priceless. The volunteers at Camp Sunshine are phenomenal. It was the first time since my son's illness that we were able to let him play like a normal child, knowing he would be taken care of while we spent time with doctors and in support groups. I recommend every family with a child that suffers from a life-threatening condition attend Camp Sunshine at least once. Though we can't wait to go back!
My family discovered Camp Sunshine in 2001 as a supportive, informative, nurturing community of families, in our case, with a child with kidney disease. We went as a family...free of charge thanks to a pool of generous donors...for six years and have now been volunteering for five years. Each week, throughout most of the year, a the camp hosts children and their families, with different life threatening diseases. I our case, we learned all about kidney disease and transplants, the various drugs and their side effects. This was not information from doctors, but families that were going through the daily grind of providing the best care that they were capable of providing. We heard to miracles, the failures, the trials that the children and families went through. The kids were in a supportive place where their scars and tubes and bodies puffed up by steriods were just another one of the kids at camp, free to enjoythe activities and make many new friends. No ne stared or laughed or asked stupid questions. This gave my daughter Lizzie and us, her family all kinds of information needed for Lizzie to choose a pilot drug study that did not use steroids or an imuno-surpresent drug that is toxic to kidneys post transplant. The camp staff is amazing and the 70 or so volunteers at each session provide care, support and friendship to each and every family. In our family we say that "there is no place like Camp Sunshine".
Camp Sunshine is hands down (or hands up) one of the most amazing places on earth. I've been volunteering as a camp counselor for Camp Sunshine for over 7 years. Typically, volunteer work is thought of as an act of giving, but it's hard to leave Camp without feeling you're always taking more than you've given. It has an amazing, small staff who somehow remember the names of hundreds of repeat volunteers and always walk the halls with a smile. From an on-site doctor to well-kept volunteer housing units and 3 meals a day --- there's little sacrifice to giving of your time here. For every ounce you give, you're given a pound in return. The magic of Camp comes from the children you interact with. The families who come to Camp are incredible. They are strong. They have perspective. They know how to live every minute. And they share all of that with you. Camp Sunshine makes every session special from small Winter sessions with camp fires, marshmallows, and ice skating to bustling Summer weeks of water activities, volleyball, and challenge course activities. Camp Sunshine changes lives - not just those of the families it serves, but of those who volunteer to help that mission. Get involved. You won't regret it.
The first time we went to Camp sunshine it was in 2005 when my younger son was being treated for Hodgkins Lymphoma. At that time we were devastated and the whole family needed a brake. We experienced such a warm, happy and supporting atmosphere. The next year we were fortunately invited again. It was at the end of that session that my oldest son who was 15 years old wanted to become a volunteer. So, the next year, my son, a friend and I became volunteers. The following year my husband also came with us and 3 years ago my younger son proudly became a volunteer. We love to help children and their families to enjoy their session, have a great time and forget their illnesses, the same way we were treated a while ago. We are so happy and proud to be part of the Camp Sunshine family. Camp Sunshine exceeds all our expectations of a great organization.
I have been blessed to volunteer at Camp Sunshine the past few years. Camp Sunshine is an amazing organization to work with. I love the fact that Camp Sunshine caters to the entire family, enabling them to be together while also enjoying activities based off of the children's age group. The program that Camp Sunshine runs is amazing and I plan to go back year after year, despite it being an 8 to 9 hour drive for me. The people at Camp Sunshine are compassionate and upbeat and the bond that one forms with the campers and families is astounding and cannot be found anywhere else that I have been. I have made lifelong friends at Camp Sunshine and my week spent at camp always manages to be the highlight of my summer.
I am Thankful to have had the opportunity to be a Camp Sunshine Volunteer over the past 12 years. It is such a special place like no other. It is truly a blessing to be able to volunteer at such a wonderful place. I have met some many wonderful Staff, Volunteers and Families over the years. If you have a chance to volunteer, it is a great experience and it will keep a special place in your heart forever! ♥
My youngest cousin went to Camp Sunshine years ago when she was receiving treatment for neuroblastoma. She and her family had a fabulous time. They always said how nice it was to get away and just experience the normalcy of camp activities and camp life. Camp Sunshine is a fantastic organization and the world is a little brighter because of them.
LHQ DanceForce Volunteers At Camp Sunshine
Students and staff of LHQ Danceforce rounded out their summer vacations by volunteering at Camp Sunshine in Casco, Maine, August 26-30. Camp Sunshine supports children with life threatening illnesses and their families.
LHQ student Jenn Root is grateful for the opportunity to participate in such an amazing program. "To have had the privilege to work with these wonderful children was life changing. Thank you LHQ for making it possible."
LHQ staff Brenda Hadden and Connie Fink were equally touched by their experience. “Taking the LHQ Danceforce Students to Camp Sunshine this year was a new and exciting opportunity for us and them. It was so rewarding to see how much the students gave so much love and support to children and families they had just met. Each and every one gave their whole heart to each person they met and we know they will hold a special place in their hearts to the families at Camp Sunshine."
Returning home with life-lasting memories, student Hayley Burbank said, "Volunteering at Camp Sunshine was the most unique and life changing opportunity I've experienced.” Amanda Lafayette insists she’ll return to camp, commenting "being able to have that experience and create all those memories is the best feeling in the world. I look forward to volunteering every year."
Camp Sunshine has the distinction of being the only program in the nation whose mission is to address the impact of a life threatening illness on every member of the immediate family—the ill child, the parents, and the siblings. Since its inception, Camp Sunshine has provided a haven for over 30,000 individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds.
I began my Camp Sunshine journey at 17 years old. I am now 24 and can't imagine life without multiple yearly 3-hr drives to Camp. From the staffers who have remembered my name since 2006 even though I only go up a couple of times a year to the families who accept and embrace my help and sentiments and hope, even though I can't truly know what it is they go through, there isn't one thing about Camp Sunshine that's left me unsatisfied. Volunteering at Camp Sunshine grounds me - I leave grateful for my health, my family, my entire life. I leave humbled and admittedly, often heartbroken that these wonderful, strong, selfless families suffer. But it is things like Camp Sunshine that ease their suffering, or at least that's what they tell us, and in that I can find solace knowing that I've helped in the slightest. But - it isn't about my satisfaction or solace, it's about the families, and Camp Sunshine is quite simply such a stellar place full of so many worthwhile humans you can't help but become overwhelmed with emotion. Naming specifics of what makes this a "stellar" organization would take all day, but let me leave this short, inspiring anecdote: Last weekend at a bereavement session, there was a balloon launch, which is an event for families and volunteers to remember siblings, children, friends and loved ones who have passed away. I didn't have to furiously struggle to hold back my tears, as I feared I would have to, because even though there were many tears being shed, it was still a moment of celebration, albeit bittersweet celebration. As the graffiti-ed white balloons rose into the air above the lake, a toddler yelled to her sister to "Make sure you take a good look at it, I don't want you to miss any of my message." That's Camp Sunshine - it might be heart-wrenching, but you'll never be alone here and if you want to yell (or scream or cry) up to the sky, there will be a beach full of family supporting you always.
In 2005 our son was diagnosed with ALL and our Social Worker gave us a list of non-profit camps that could help us through this difficult time. At the time our son was only 18-months old and we loved the fact that Camp Sunshine was a family camp. In June 2006 we first visited Camp Sunshine. It truly is like no place else; the beauty of the campus, the organization of their programs and staff, and the overwhelming warm and caring volunteers. It felt like our home away from home. We have been blessed to return to Camp Sunshine every year thereafter and our children are often in tears when leaving. We have been blessed to meet many families like ours, and have made lifelong frendships with volunteers, staffers and other families. We call Camp Sunshine our home away from home; A place where we can be ourself, a place where we understand each other without any need to "explain" ourselves, a place where we can relax and enjoy and watch our children be children and not children-with-cancer. As a parent, my favorite part of being at Camp Sunshine is participating in the Parent Group discussions, where we truly understand each other, we can laugh, cry and know that we have each other to always count on, because we are all a family, all a part of the Camp Sunshine Family.
I have done a lot of volunteer work over the years and the experience at Camp Sunshine was absolutely wonderful. The parents who attended were SOOOO comfortable at Camp - comfortable that they are held, comfortable expressing themselves about their loss, comfortable that their children are well taken care of by the volunteer staff. Each one of these things is significant - and to have a place where all of these elments are present is truly a blessing. The children seem to really bond as a group and the bond with the volunteers seemed so natural. I feel honored to have been part of the volunteer staff at Camp Sunshine and look forward to my next experience there.
The first time I went to Camp Sunshine, I was scared. Scared that I couldn't handle it. Scared that I wouldn't like it and the kids wouldn't like me. Then I went to camp and the instant bond between counselor and teenager was beyond anything I could have imagined. You make life long friends among the other volunteers but mostly importantly with the families. Hearing their stories is amazing. By the end of a week, the whole camp is one big family and nothing can tear you apart. At the end of the week, teens, kids, and counselors alike cry because they've had such a special week and they don't want to go home and leave their friends and loved ones. Camp Sunshine is honestly one of the most amazing places I've ever been. The more times I go to camp, the more time I want to spend at camp and the more time I spend time figuring out how to fit more camp sessions into my schedule. I can't wait to go back in February!