Free day camp for children with cancer opens in New York City

March 14, 2016 Jaime DeJesus
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The sun is rising on a new day camp.

After 10 years, Sunrise Day Camp, dedicated to providing children battling cancer and their siblings a free of charge program, is opening in Staten Island, its first facility in New York City.

“We recognize the financial burden families go through with children dealing with cancer,” said Kevin Brosnick, director of individual giving and supervisor for the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island.

The first Sunrise Day Camp opened on Long Island in 2006. Since then, other camps have opened in Pearl River and Israel.

According to Brosnick, one of the benefits of bringing Sunrise to Staten Island is providing a closer location. “The good thing about this is, with most kids going to camp on Long Island or Pearl River, this will give them a closer camp to go to,” he said. “The biggest challenge is that some children travel up to two hours to get to the camp. We felt it was important to open up a camp in the area.”

The camp, which accommodates children from three and a half to 16 years old, will be located at Mount Loretto, which is run by Catholic Charities of Staten Island. “The Jewish Community Center of Staten Island and Catholic Charities are collaborating on this, which is very significant,” Brosnick said.

Children will be able to participate in arts and crafts, music and performing arts, sports and recreation. “There will be a full playground with courts. What is unique to our camp is the spray deck area for kids to partake in,” said Brosnick. “Many children with cancer can’t be in a pool.”

In addition to the camp, Sunrise also collaborates with several hospitals where the young cancer patients are receiving treatment. “We are opening here but also incorporating in-hospital year-round recreation programs, which is part of the parent company, Sunrise Association,” he said. “It has collaborated with over 15 of the major hospitals in the New York City areas where there are treatment programs for children who need Pediatric Oncologist Units.”

Maimonides Medical Center will be part of the program this summer.

The year-round program includes Sunrise staff visiting and spending time with the children, bringing activities for them to do while they’re undergoing treatment.

A major challenge for providing a free day camp is raising money. “Because the camp is free of charge, we have to raise 100 percent of the money to support the camp, and provide programs and activities at the camp and our year- round programs,” Brosnick said. “We raise funds through a number of events throughout year. We are having a comedy night in April at the South Shore Rotary Club. We also have an event called Sunrise Walks on June 5. People can support the camp through participating in it.”

The camp is slated to open this summer in Staten Island and is expected to include 75 children. The response has already been positive. “Whether it’s local businesses, companies or Rotary Clubs, everyone has been showing tremendous interest and response has been overwhelming,” Brosnick added.

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