WALK FOR A CAUSE! Join SunriseWALKS on Sunday, June 4, to raise money for Sunrise Day Camp! CLICK HERE for more information.
Nothing is more devastating for a parent than their child’s diagnosis of cancer. Aside from the heartache of watching a youngster endure treatment, parents are concerned about the effects of the illness on siblings. It turns the entire family’s world upside down in ways never before imagined.
In an effort to provide a positive summer experience, the JCC of Staten island will rent space at Staten Island Academy, Todt Hill, and utilize the facilities at the school for the Lucille & Jay Chazanoff Sunrise Day Camp, a dedicated day camp for children with cancer and their siblings, provided completely free of charge.
Orit Lender, CEO of the JCC, said, “Childhood should be a time for playdates, adventures outside in the sun, toothless grins, and scraped knees. But for too many children and their families, a pediatric cancer diagnosis changes everything. That’s why our Lucille & Jay Chazanoff Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island is so important. This free camp for children with cancer and their siblings gives our campers the gift of a magical summer that every child deserves to experience. Days at Sunrise are filled with friends, games, songs, and fun—the perfect antidote to long, lonely days at home and in the hospital. There’s nothing better than the smiles we see at Sunrise Day Camp because we know how much our campers have been through at such a young age. We are grateful to all the generous donors and sponsors who make camp a reality for these children by supporting us every year.”
About half of the children who attend Sunrise Day Camp have cancer. The other half are their siblings, whose lives are so often altered by the disease. No friends over to the house because of impaired immune systems, no ‘equal’ treatment because so much of a family’s resources (emotional, financial, time, etc) are dominated by the health/medical needs of the patient. The camp recognizes the need for fun in all the children’s lives.
Providing memorable summers on Staten Island since 2016 for children ages 3½–16, the camp brings the simple pleasures of childhood back to children struggling with cancer, changing months of loneliness and isolation into summers filled with sunshine, laughter and happiness. And because Sunrise is a day camp, it does all this while allowing the children to continue their medical treatment and enjoy the comfort and safety of their own homes at night.
“Each day at Sunrise Day Camp, we’re spreading sunshine to kids who have been through the unimaginable,” David Lutzker, incoming Director of Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island, said. “But so often, we find that it’s really our campers—and the smiles and the laughter they share—who shine the most.”
Staten Island Academy has a 12-acre campus, which provides enough space for Sunrise campers to take part in activities both indoors and out.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to welcome Sunrise Day Camp to their new home at Staten Island Academy,” Eileen Corigliano, Staten Island Academy’s assistant head of school, said. “Nothing beats seeing the children’s smiling faces as they enjoy all that our beautiful campus has to offer. It is such a powerful experience to have Staten Island organizations join together and share their resources to support children, especially during this difficult time in their lives. Staten Island Academy students have the privilege of working with Sunrise and their children and it has been a rewarding experience. I am hopeful that this becomes a lifelong partnership for Sunrise and Staten Island Academy.”
Additionally, the camp operates with enhanced safety protocols in place to minimize the potential of COVID-19 transmission at camp. Still, a virtual camp option is available for those families who may prefer or need distance camping.
Sunrise Day Camp is operated by the JCC of Staten Island and is a program of the Sunrise Association, which has locations locally and worldwide. Sunrise Day Camps are in locations including Atlanta, Baltimore, Long Island, Pearl River, Israel, and of course, Staten Island.
This year, camp runs June 29-Aug. 10. Unlike similar sleep-away camps that are offered for only 1-2 weeks, Sunrise allows children in active treatment to continue with their home doctors, while attending camp each day. This unique concept allows children the comfort of sleeping in their own beds each night – a comfort not only for the campers, but for their parents as well.
Parents have peace of mind when their children attend Sunrise. All activities at camp are designed with special features to best accommodate chronically ill children, with medical personnel always available to provide expert care if needed. The flexible and individualized camp schedule allows for children to attend the program when they are able to do so, whether for the entire summer or a day or two. The goal is to provide the campers with a typical, predictable summer in a world filled with uncertainties and situations which no child nor family should ever have to face.
How Do Parents Enroll Their Child?
Parents can enroll their child online or by calling 718-475-5119. Children must be referred/given clearance by their oncologist or hospital. The camp welcomes children primarily from Staten Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan and central or northern New Jersey. Children are picked up at their homes and home hospitals and returned there at the end of the camp day. They attend as they can…the whole summer, a few weeks, a day…whatever works for them and their physical health and treatment schedule.
How Is Sunrise Day Camp Staten Island Different From The Other JCC Camp At Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds?
Actually, it isn’t very different at all. It has the same kinds of activities like sports, arts and crafts, swimming, music, and much more. Of course it will have well-trained and caring staff. What does make it different is that there are high energy levels and lower energy levels of the activities based on how a child is feeling. There is more medical personnel. But to the child…NO difference and that’s what’s important.
Who Pays If Not The Families?
ALL funds have to be raised every year so these children can have the time of their lives having fun. Since it will cost about $6,000 per camper to pay for renting the facility, paying the staff, purchasing supplies, etc., there is a ton of fundraising that has to be done. No one would ever want to disappoint any child but not these children in particular.
How Can The Community Help Support Sunrise Day Camp?
Information about how to help support Sunrise Day Camp is available online.
This article was updated from a previous article that ran last year.
Wanna read more stuff like this? Get our newsletters packed with ideas, events, and information for parents in Staten Island.