WALK FOR A CAUSE! Join SunriseWALKS on Sunday, June 5 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 affects the illness is having 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 is partnering with Catholic Charities of Staten Island and will utilize the facilities at Mt. Loretto for Sunrise Day Camp, a dedicated day camp for children with cancer and their siblings, provided completely free of charge.
Providing memorable summers since 2006 for children ages 3½–16, Sunrise Day Camps bring 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.
Sunrise Day Camp, operated by Sunrise Association, has been in existence for 10 years and has provided a wonderful camping experience for approximately 3200 children of all faiths and backgrounds. Adding to its 4 current sites (Long Island, Pearl River, and two in Israel), the JCC of Staten Island will become its fifth location and the only one in New York City.
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?
Children must be referred/given clearance by their oncologist or hospital. They’ll be welcoming children primarily from Staten Island but possibly from nearby Brooklyn, Manhattan and central or northern New Jersey. Children are picked up at their hospital 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.
Because the siblings’ lives are totally altered as well. 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. So this camp recognizes the need for fun in all the children’s lives.
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 $400,000-$500,000 to pay for renting the facility, pay the staff (including a year round director since this program will hopefully follow the model set by Sunrise Association with a year-round hospital component), purchase 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.
What else is unique?
This is the first time that our JCC and Catholic Charities Staten Island will be working together to make our borough a better place, one that is ahead of the other boroughs and most of the world in having such a camp for these children and families that need it.