Maine is known as an ideal vacation destination. And there’s a certain camp in Maine that is known for the wonderful and magical experience it offers to critically ill children and their families.
Founded in 1984, Camp Sunshine in Casco, Maine hosts retreats combining respite, recreation and support while enabling hope and promoting joy for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families. The program is free for families and includes on-site medical and psychosocial support. Bereavement sessions are also offered for families who have experienced the death of a child.
To date, nearly 50,000 family members from 50 states and 27 countries have attended one of Camp Sunshine’s retreats, which offer activities that any Maine lakefront resort would provide. Mini-golf, archery, kayaking, paddleboats, nature trails and so much more. Plus ice-skating, snowshoeing, and sledding in the winter. The camp offers parents, siblings and children with cancer the chance to discuss their experiences with peers. This may involve group conversations, a therapeutic yoga class or massage, even a meal with a spouse on “date night.” Youth can participate in age-appropriate therapy elements, learn new prosthetic tips from peers, or express themselves creatively on talent night.
Michael Katz, the camp’s executive director, knows the impact of this very special place. “If we could play back the laughter, the stories, the love-cup trophy winner announcements, the wish boat ceremonies, and the end-of-week slideshows, the colors and emotion would be more magnificent and powerful than any masterpiece painting, song or stage play. Here at Camp Sunshine, the moments and emotions of real life are powerful.”