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2017 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 32 years, Camp Sunshine has served more than 48,900 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: 750-800 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

100 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Have been volunteering for years. I work as a pediatric critical care nurse so Camp Sunshine is absolutely astonishing to me. The very best place for ALL kids to be kids. Not patients, not a sibling of a sick kid. Camp Sunshine is filled with huge hearts and understanding minds.

1 Alexis14

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I'm from Michigan and let me tell you, the road trip out to Camp Sunshine is worth every mile! As a volunteer I get to see the miracles that happen every day to every person involved. You become a more humbled, honored, loved, and grateful human being every second of every session. It is the definition of sunshine and I am so blessed to have volunteered there for 4 years and counting!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I started volunteering at Camp Sunshine at 16, as soon as I was able, and since then my life has never been quite the same. Camp Sunshine further confirmed my aspirations to be a Registered Nurse, and showed me true resiliance. Through the love and pure strength I recieved from the families, I learned a lot about life at a young age and feel so blessed to be a part of the Camp Sunshine community. There is no better feeling than making a sick child smile, and there are plenty of smiles to go around at Camp Sunshine. The staff are incredible and extremely dedicated. Every single person in that environment has a determination to help others, and it is a beautiful thing to witness. I've been many places, but Camp Sunshine remains my favorite place on this earth.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

In a nutshell, the week I spent volunteering at Camp Sunshine was the best week of my life! I am so excited to go back, and work with all the wonderful counclers and campers. Camp Sunshine is a wonderful place full of people with such big hearts. I spread the word as much as I can, so more people will go volunteer. Every child is given a week not only to be "normal" but to be extraordinary. It is so wonderful to see the parents having a good time, and see how happy all of the kids are. It is a contagious feeling in the atmosphere. Without a doubt, I'd call it the best place on earth, and I'm only a volunteer. I can't even begin to fathom what the children must feel. There is not a place the can compare to Camp Sunshine!

Terry51

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When my daughter and I decided to volunteer at Camp Sunshine the first time, we knew it was going to be an amazing experience. NEVER in our wildest dreams did we think it would be as incredible as it is. Camp Sunshine is in our hearts forever and has become one of the best parts of our lives.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

What keeps me coming back to Camp Sunshine year after year? Could it be the small, yet wonderful, caring staff who treat everyone so warmly? Is it the families who entrust their most valuable possessions (their children) to me during the sessions, and stay in touch with me throughout the years? Is it the medical professionals who are on call 24-7? Is it the clean facilities? The various activities? The army of volunteers of all ages and from all over the country? The wonderful 3 meals a day? The evening entertainment? The wish boats? Or is it, that Camp Sunshine is the place where kids can be kids, and no one is "different"? It is all of these things, and so much more, and I am so fortunate to be a part of it.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Last summer I had the privilege of volunteering for one week at a Camp Sunshine brain tumor session. The camp is a delightful, happy, modern, clean and well-run facility. Staff and volunteers do everything they can to make the families attending feel relaxed, special and like they are on vacation. The families have time to bond as a family and they have separate child and adult time--it's a great balance. There are plenty of smiles and laughter and also a few tears. I'm looking forward to returning again this summer! Happy 30th Anniversary Camp Sunshine!!

Jillian6

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Camp Sunshine is truly the happiest and brightest place to be. I volunteered for the first time four years ago and it completely changed my life for the better. The highlight of my year is being able to volunteer, meet new families, reconnect with old and help allow these families experience a vacation they will never forget. At camp it isn't about the diseases that define the child but getting to know the child for who they truly are. The staff is amazing, the campus is breath taking and it truly is a home away from home. Volunteering at camp has brought me to my future career goals to become a child life specialist. I will continue to volunteer year after year! It is rewarding to be able to see the families and volunteers come together in remembering what life is all about. We come together to multiply our joy and happiness and divide our troubles. Camp Sunshine will always be my favorite place!

Marianne B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wow what to say about Camp Sunshine. Smiles, laughter, fun, friendship and oh so much more. I have been involved in non-profits before as a volunteer but never one quite as loving, caring, compassionate and dedicated as this camp is. From the relentless dedicated staff who make sure that families have everything they need from arrival to departure, to the thousands of volunteers that are attracted to the camp and what it stands for. And what it stands for to the many who come through the doors – HOPE. The bonding that takes place between the campers themselves, as well as the volunteers is simply amazing. No one is left behind, what I mean is that every family member is treated as royalty. They have so many activities (from sports, to arts and crafts, games, singing and dancing, just to name a few) for the different age groups, from the littlest camper to the biggest, each individual is special . Winter, spring, summer or fall the camps activity is on-going. Certainly anyone who has a child with a life-threatening illness whether near or far should come to camp, it will change your life, you will leave rejuvenated. If you are interested in volunteering this camp will also change your life, as it has mine, you will leave exhausted but the joy inside your heart is like nothing else, knowing that you have spent the week in such a hopeful, respectful and loving environment and you WILL want to do it again. It is and always will be an honor to volunteer for such an outstanding non-profit as Camp Sunshine is.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Wow to be able to tell the world about Camp Sunshine is such an honor. My daughter was the first in our family to volunteer she was 16 at the time. When she came home she was so excited and so uplifted about her experience I couldn’t wait to go. A couple of years went by and because of life I was unable to go but it nagged at me. So in 2010 I decided no more excuses I was going and I invited my sister who was recovering from breast cancer. That decision changed my life, working with families and children who everyday struggle with so much more than the rest of us made me realize just how lucky my family, friends and I were. Camp Sunshine became my purpose in life, I don’t have a lot of money, but I do have time and I am so grateful that I found that time in 2010 because I came home and shared my feelings and now my children, their friends, and my neighbors are all volunteering. Camp Sunshine is like a fine tuned machine, the staff and volunteers (who are all so absolutely wonderful) are there for the families and the families who are lucky enough to come have the experience of a life time. For the first time many families are relaxed, they can breathe easy for a few days, experience friendship with people who understand their plight, and most importantly they have fun. I along with many other volunteers walk away with a feeling of such pride to have been able to walk beside volunteers, staff and families for those few days. And many of us make lifetime friends, I am happy to say that I now volunteer a few times a year and I consider that one of the greatest blessings in my life.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been volunteering at Camp Sunshine for over 5 years and it's consistently the best weeks of my year. The Camp itself has great facilities and treats all their volunteers with utmost respect and kindness, even going out of the way to learn everyone's name when thousands of us pass through there every year.

The families I've met have all echoed the same sentiment - that camp sunshine is amazing. I can only speak from a volunteer point of view but I know that I have witnessed communities of support come together and help each other get through this difficult time in their lives.

Volunteering at camp has literally changed my life and I don't see a time in my life when I wouldn't make the trip there at least once a year.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Camp Sunshine is a truly amazing place. It is wonderful what a talented, dedicated staff and a bunch of enthusiastic, caring volunteers can accomplish for the families that are able to attend. It provides a magical experience for everyone who is involved and it gives each person the opportunity to give of themselves to another individual and have a real impact on the lives of others. I have served as a volunteer and am returning this weekend to volunteer again. I plan to return as often as I am able. It is a life changing experience.

Sarah-Fay M.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I have now had the opportunity to volunteer at camp four times and will be returning this weekend to volunteer again. As a former client served I cannot even begin to describe how much of an impact this organization has had on my family and my life. When we attended as a family my brother and I, the "normal" siblings, were finally able to find others that we could relate with and really, really talk to. My brothers and I have established lifelong friendships from our time as campers. I began volunteering last year by myself and was able to share the volunteer experience with my mother and my husband this year; I honestly inform everyone about Camp Sunshine and encourage volunteering or supporting Camp in any way. It is impossible to put into words how much Camp means to me, but I can tell you that I am constantly using my earned vacation and personal days to VOLUNTEER, if that shows you how amazing volunteering for this organization is.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The first time I attended camp was in the early 2000's as a camper; my brother had leukemia and we attended as a family three to four times. Camp is such an amazing place for families experiencing these hardships to sit back, relax, and connect. I finally was able to give back and volunteer this summer and can say that volunteering is even more of an amazing experience. You can see the joy, hope and gratitude in the families eyes as they are able to have a normal summer experience. By the time the week was over I did not want to leave and jumped at the opportunity to come back, which I will be doing in about two weeks. I have also spread the word about Camp to ALL of my family and friends and can't wait to spread the joy and hope for the years to come.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Maureen B.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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

ajohnston100

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Previous Stories

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Anita8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Libby S.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!!!