Camp Sunshine | A retreat 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’s program is offered year-round and has 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 support. Bereavement sessions are also offered for families who have experienced the death of a child from a supported illness.

A cost-free, year-round retreat on the shores of Sebago Lake in Casco, Maine

Since the program’s inception, more than 52,000 families from all 50 states and 27 different countries have attended Camp Sunshine. While at Camp Sunshine, each family stays in their own suite, equipped with 2 twin sized beds, a set of bunk beds, a futon, microwave oven, and refrigerator. Three meals a day are provided to families in our dining hall which is located in the center of Camp Sunshine’s 25-acre campus.

When families first hear about Camp Sunshine, their initial reaction can sometimes be: “My family gets to go on a free trip to Maine? What’s the catch?” But when they begin to do research and speak with Camp Sunshine’s Family Support Team, they quickly realize that there truly isn’t a catch and that the program is simply designed to be a safe, tranquil place for families to relax, reenergize and restore hope for the future.

Sessions at Camp Sunshine are designed to provide a sense of normalcy by offering families the opportunity to be around other families who are facing similar challenges. Children are grouped by age and are able to enjoy a plethora of activities supervised by volunteer counselors. Meanwhile, adult family members are able to have some fun of their own as well. While at Camp Sunshine, all family members are able to participate in many exciting activities year-round like performing in the talent show, fishing, swimming in Sebago Lake or in the indoor pool, challenging themselves on the ropes course, and even snowshoeing, ice-skating and sledding in the winter.

camp sunshine familiesApplying to attend Camp Sunshine as a family

Camp Sunshine offers cost-free sessions for children diagnosed with cancer, hematologic conditions, renal disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, and those who have undergone solid organ transplantation. If you know a family with a child who has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, please consider referring the child’s family to Camp Sunshine. Camp Sunshine accepts family applications on an ongoing basis for illness-specific retreats throughout the year. Session dates for the following year are typically released in early November. Please email for more information. A list of program dates, as well as family and volunteer applications, can be found online.

Creating Sunshine for Others

“The important connections that begin the moment a family walks through one of Camp Sunshine’s three, iconic front doors does not happen without the kindness and support of many people, including our generous donors, volunteers and families,” explained Camp Sunshine’s Executive Director, Michael Katz. “There is nothing more inspiring than to have a family share with us that Camp Sunshine has changed their lives and in some instances saved their lives,” Katz continued. “We are so thankful to our donors and volunteers for helping us continue to create sunshine for the families we serve.”

Contact:  Camp Sunshine

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