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Camp Sunrise is open to any and all pediatric oncology patients, majority of children who attend Camp Sunrise are Johns Hopkins pediatric oncology patients. The camp is divided into two parts to cater to different age groups and their needs. The day camp offers a child ages 4-5 an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the camping experience without having to spend the night away from their families.
The residential camp for campers ages 6-18 is a traditional overnight camping experience. There is also a counselor-in-training program that caters to those campers ages 17-18 who are ready to take a leadership role to receive training in the hopes of becoming future counselors. Many of the counselors at Camp Sunrise are former campers who love the camp, understand the experience of receiving treatment for cancer, and want all campers to have a great experience just as they did.
Reflections of Camp Sunrise by Patient Ambassador, Neha
As the sun sets on the quiet grounds in the woods of Annapolis, the kids start lining up by the cabin for dinner. Their ages range from around six to sixteen, and, as they chat excitedly about what happened during the day, they look like any other bunch of children excited to be in camp. But these kids are special. That’s because this camp is, first and foremost, a camp for cancer patients. Every child in camp is united by one aspect, and that is that every one of them has had cancer. Many have been in remission for years now. Others had cancer as a baby, or as a very young child, and they remember very little of the experience. Others are in the middle of their treatment, perhaps during a lull during their chemotherapy. For these children, Camp Sunrise is a blessing.
Camp Sunrise, run by Johns Hopkins Pediatric Oncology, is a camp for cancer patients. Run entirely on donations, the camp is also staffed full time with oncologists and nurses. Camp Sunrise is a place where children can just be themselves, no questions asked. A place where everyone knows the back-story. A place where everyone understands what you’ve been through, because they’ve been through the same thing. A place where scars are not something to hide and be embarrassed about, but something to proudly flaunt, like battle scars, that show all you’ve been through.
The children here participate in normal childhood things, and get to leave the hospital setting to be normal kids. However, all these children have something else in common. No matter the troubles that they have suffered through in their past, in the present, they are all happy. They wake up, participate in the myriad of events targeted especially towards them, and laugh. They learn archery, participate in arts and crafts, can go swimming everyday, and just get to be kids. They pull pranks on the other cabins (one of the most memorable was driving a golf cart into the dining hall then saran wrapping all the tables and chairs around the golf cart).
True, every day after mealtimes a call for medications to be administered occurs, but, other than that, these children are allowed to be normal, allowed to be children. And, perhaps, that is just as important to their treatment as the chemotherapy is.
Interested campers can contact Jenny Seiler at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to request a camper application.