As a Trustee of the Chreda Foundation I have a particular interest in children’s camps (we have supported a Salvation Army camp here in the UK on a couple of successive years, and plan to do so again this year). So I was delighted to hear about a very special retreat in the USA called Camp Sunshine.
Having now been in existence for nearly 30 years Camp Sunshine is on the shores of Sebago Lake, Maine, and is a charity that “provides respite, support, joy and hope to children with life-threatening illnesses and their immediate families through various stages of a child’s illness”. Sessions run from mid-February to the beginning of September, and the whole experience is said to be life-changing not just for the children who attend, but also for the many volunteers, who come from all age-groups and walks of life. A special kind of camaraderie ensures that barriers between the volunteers quickly break down, and even the strenuous physical activities sometimes see quite elderly people joining in with college and high-school students (many of whom are volunteering there even during term time).
Volunteers can become counsellors, teamed up with specific age groups; they can choose to supervise very young children; they can work in particular project areas; they may choose to do landscaping work; or some may find their niche in the kitchens. There’s always plenty for everyone to do at Camp Sunshine.
The weekly schedule normally culminates in a light-hearted talent show, in which campers and volunteers alike can take part. But there are quieter, more reflective moments, too, such as the ‘Wish Boat’ ceremony, during which the children float home-made paper boats with lighted candles out to the middle of the pond, on the end of long strings, make wishes, then pull the boats back to shore. This is said to be a very moving part of the programme for everyone.
Support for the Camp – both in terms of volunteering and of providing funds – comes by word-of-mouth: people who attend recommend the experience to friends and family. It also benefits from a certain amount of online social networking. So I hope that this modest article will encourage others to participate, or at least donate funds. If you would like to support the work of Camp Sunshine you can donate online, at http://www.campsunshine.org/support_us/index.php. And if you want to become more actively involved, you can apply here: http://www.campsunshine.org/volunteer/.
No comments yet.