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.
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! ♥
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.
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!
Each night is themed so the kids have something to look forward to and there is a song that we all sing (and perform) to start the festivities. The camp provides activities for children of all ages, ensuring that no one will get bored. One thing I really liked about the camp was the support that was also provided for the adults. I was assigned as an adult counselor. The parents participated in silly games that made them all laugh and help them to momentarily forget about the illnesses that their children were fighting. Daily group counseling was also a part of the schedule and I think it really helped the parents to know that they were not alone. Daily meals were provided and volunteers sat along with the families allowing us all to create a bond, to get to know one another and just make new friends. I could really tell that the staff at Camp Sunshine were extremely passionate about their cause. They did not let you believe for a second that they did not want to be a part of this. The support that they provided to the parents, to the children, the attention to detail to the facility in ensuring that the children were safe and did not lack in anything that they might have needed was absolutely admirable. The environment bred support and love - I really can't wait to go back soon!
In 2010, when considering a vacation from work in California, I knew that I did not want to go somewhere and lie around. I wanted to do something meaningful. Then I came across an article on volunteer vacations in a recent Budget Travel magazine, which profiled Camp Sunshine as one option. After reviewing the camp's website, I was inspired by how and what the Goulds had unselfishly provided for all those families, and I knew that I wanted to help. At Camp Sunshine, the synergy is about giving of our attention and love to those who are ill, the parents, the brothers and sisters, and those who have sadly passed. In whatever our interactions may be in our individual volunteer duties, the giving can be with focused listening, loving silence, a warm gaze, a caring touch, joyful and silly laughter, a knowing smile, and an understanding hug. At the end of each session the song, "That's What Friends Are For," is sung. You have to be present then to truly understand, as when you see the families' faces and feel their energy, their happiness, and the love emanating from everyone present, you know the specialness and magic of Camp Sunshine. I only wish there was one in the West Coast, as you would find me volunteering monthly, if time allowed, and/or if permanent employment with them was possible. I have volunteered three times and was not there for this November only because of a work issue. As I believe in the SPECIALNESS OF CAMP SUNSHINE AND THEIR MISSION AND SERVICES to all those families, I will be a lifer volunteer, returning annually. The families need and receive so much from Camp Sunshine. There is no other like it. As a volunteer, what I have received is invaluable, indescribable, and my heart has been touched. Coincidentally, that year two other California gals, having read of Camp Sunshine through the same magazine, were inspired and volunteered that same November!
Camp Sunshine has been a tranformational experience every time I volunteer there. Being around children who are fighting for their lives and having the time of their lives at camp, reminds me that I have strength inside of me that can get me through anything. I have taken the memories of volunteering back with me into my daily life. Voluneering at camp has made me a better person and I look forward to going back again this year.
I am both a volunteer and a donor. Camp Sunshine is an amazing retreat for children with critical illnesses and their entire families. Families attend at no cost to them thanks to generous donations. The facilities are very well maintained and safe for all. The challenges these families face are tremendous and Camp Sunshine provides a welcome respite for them where they can be together, relax, and not think about day-to-day life. It is hard to put into words how amazing the Camp Sunshine experience is. JOY RISING is one of the best phrases I could use. Everywhere you look, everyone is smiling, everyone is happy, and everyone is enjoying time together in a beautiful spot. This is an incredibly special place and they manage their program, their facility, and their resources with great care.
Camp Sunshine is a VERY SPECIAL place!!! I have been a volunteer for 5 years and have LOVED every minute I was there!!!! It is definitely a "two way street"....volunteers get more than they give. I have met wonderful people...families and volunteers...who have touched my life in a million ways. My only regret...Camp Sunshine is a far drive for me!!!! I wish it was closer and I'd be there a lot more!!! Mary
I've been volunteering at Camp Sunshine now every summer since I was 16, and not a day goes by that I don't think of my time at Camp Sunshine. These families have struggled so much throughout the year that they can't wait till it is time to return to camp. They bond so closely with one another that their friends at camp become extensions of their family. I know that this is something these families could not live without. Camp Sunshine does more then give them a week's vacation. It provides them with a lifetime of support, and I love being a small role in that. I look at all these people who have been volunteering for over ten years, and I know that one day that will be me too.
I started coming to Camp Sunshine three years ago with my family. I can describe what a close knit family this is. It impressed me so much we started volunteering. We now live in Texas and fly back to Maine just for the chance to volunteer. Camp Sunshine is very important to my family as our Sebago Family will be there for the rest of our lives.
Camp Sunshine is a remarkable place of joy and happiness for families of very sick children. I have volunteered three times, and when I see what the experience means to the families, it makes feel so good to be able to be even a small part of it. Th ey all get to forget about the illness and just have fun in a beautiful setting.