Right about now, parents are scrambling to enroll their kids in various area summer camps. The choices abound, and for many kids, it’s the highlight of their summer.
Last year, I had the opportunity to visit our own Camp Sunrise, a week-long summer camp, hosted by Johns Hopkins, for children and young adults with cancer. It’s a special camp that serves as a get-a-way for kids with cancer and lets them push aside their illnesses for a week. Many of our patients have told me how much they love and look forward to camp; it’s the highlight of their year. It was the highlight of my summer too.
At a typical day in Camp Sunrise, there are cabins for the campers, a swimming pool, pavilions, camp fire pits, and of course, the dining hall. Campers swim, sing, dance and play basketball. Each child can participate, regardless of limitations from their illnesses. Watching these campers swim, dance and sing, you soon forget they battled or are battling cancer. This is exactly the point.
For parents, the camp is a safe retreat for their children, staffed with doctors and nurses from Johns Hopkins. Camp staff take personal vacation time, leaving work and attending camp. What’s even better for parents is that Camp Sunrise is funded by donors, which makes camp free of charge to families.
Dedicated volunteers will hold the first Camp Sunrise Gala on May 12 at The Grand Lodge in Hunt Valley, MD, to continue raising funds for Camp Sunrise. Camp Sunrise is a reminder of the importance in continuing our fight to find cures for childhood cancers. I am hopeful that in the future, as great and fun as it is, we will no longer have a need for Camp Sunrise.