Camp Sunshine is a retreat in Casco, Maine for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families.
Founded in 1984, Camp Sunshine provides retreats combining respite, recreation and support, while enabling hope and promoting joy, for children with life-threatening illnesses and their families through the various stages of a child’s illness.
Camp Sunshine is the only program in the nation offered year-round with the distinction of having been designed to serve the entire family in a retreat model. The program is free of charge to families and includes on-site medical and psychosocial support. Bereavement sessions are also offered for families who have experienced the death of a child from a supported illness.
Families with a child diagnosed with life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, renal disease, lupus, solid organ transplants, and other illnesses attend one of the illness-specific sessions to regroup, reenergize and restore hope for the future. Camp Sunshine’s focus is on alleviating the strain that a life-threatening illness takes on all members of the family. Families have an opportunity to rebuild their relationships together and meet other families facing similar challenges.
Free quality services are provided at the camp including accommodations and meals, onsite medical services, counseling services, and recreational facilities. While the camp is in session, each family stays in their own family suite. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served each day.
Volunteers, except for those who live nearby, also stay on the property. Camp Sunshine is staffed almost entirely by volunteers, with many returning year after year. The volunteers reflect the diversity of the families and help with recreational leadership, childcare, food service, and whatever else needs to be done.
Another distinctive component of the program is the medical facilities and professional staff that are available to address the taxing physical needs of children with intrusive diseases. A physician is located at the camp for the entire session so that families can be secure in the knowledge that the camp offers 24-hour onsite medical support. In addition, a hospital with full-time emergency room physicians and pediatricians is only 25 minutes from the camp.
Recreational hours allow children to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of childhood while their parents find quiet moments to walk by the lake and reaffirm their support for one another. In addition, games and events are designed to foster family involvement, encouraging families to laugh and play as a unit. This approach builds a new foundation the family can use to unite them during the darker times they may face when the camp is over.
Each family is sponsored by an individual, civic group, corporation, or foundation, which enables a family to spend a week at Camp Sunshine free of charge. The sponsorship for one family to participate in the week-long program is $2,000. The Family Sponsorship Program provides a way for donors to sponsor a family or families from their geographic area.
The Camp Sunshine Program is FREE to families.