Keeping Up With Arizona's Happy Campers


As most everyone knows, the American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary organization dedicated to eliminating the world's deadliest disease.

As most everyone doesn't know, the heart of the American Cancer Society is right outside Payson at Arizona Camp Sunrise.

One of 24 summer camps in the state accredited by the American Camp Association, Arizona Camp Sunrise is dedicated to providing an exciting, medically safe camp program not only for children between the ages of eight and 17 who have or have had cancer, but their siblings as well.

The camp was created in 1983 when there were 23 cancer patients and eight staff, and it was held in a pasture near Flagstaff. Everyone slept in tents and pitched in with the cooking. In 1985, the camp moved to the R-C Scout Ranch, west of Kohl's Ranch. Today the facilities include six sleeper cabins, a fully equipped dining hall and kitchen, and a medical center.

Camp Sunrise programs now serve more than 600 children, with a volunteer staff of more than 100 adults. There are retreats, teen trips, and other special events year-round.

"We try to give these kids a 'normal' summer camp experience, in a setting that caters to their special medical needs," media representative Tina Peoples said. To that end, the camp's medical staff are on call 24 hours a day.

Some of the traditional camp activities offered at Arizona Camp Sunrise are archery, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, arts and crafts, and singing around a campfire. Less traditional offerings include rappelling, dance, drama, rocketry, magic, scrapbooking, and cooking.

"We also have fun activities like a dance, a carnival, and the oh-so-sticky Jell-o War," Peoples said.

The camp season is made up of one-week sessions during the month of July. Financial aid for participants is available.

Phone: (602) 553-7129; Fax: (602) 224-7466; E-mail:; URL:

Other Payson area summer camps

Summer camps, of course, aren't exclusively designed just for children with special needs. In fact, right here in Arizona, parents can easily find an accredited camp that will fulfill just about any need or desire their children may possess. Some are even in reasonable proximity of the Rim country.

And four, including Camp Sunrise, are right here in the Payson area:

Shadow Rim Ranch, Payson

Mountain-ranch setting with program activities for girls that foster self-esteem and cooperation. Featured activities include archery, arts/crafts, backpacking, camping skills/outdoor living, canoeing, counselor training, hiking, leadership development, nature/environment studies, sports-field and team. Season: June through August. Sessions: half-week, one week. Campers include: girls ages 7 to 17. Capacity: 105. Transportation available. Phone: (602) 253-6359; Fax: (602) 252-1159; E-mail:

Tonto Rim American Baptist Camp

Offers quality programs and rental facilities. Featured activities include archery, arts/crafts, basketball, canoeing, community service, counselor training, hiking, horseback-western, leadership development, nature/environment studies. Sessions: one week. Campers include: coed ages 8 to 99, families. Phone: (520) 478-4630; E-mail:

Faith Adventure Camp

Mountain setting. Christian emphasis. Many outdoor activities. Caring atmosphere with trained, loving, caring counselors. Featured activities include archery, arts/crafts, camping skills/outdoor living, drama, hiking, music, nature/environment studies, riflery, fishing, religious study.

Sessions: one week. Campers include: boys and girls, ages 6 to 12. Capacity: 120.

Phone: (480) 838-6559; Fax: (480) 967-8839; E-mail:

Elsewhere in Arizona

Camp Honor, Prescott

Serving children with hemophilia and/or HIV, their siblings, and children of hemophiliacs. Phone: (602) 955-3947; Fax: (602) 955-1962; E-mail:

Camp Ponderosa Ranch, Heber

Offers a fun, safe, Christian environment where children can meet friends and learn new skills. Phone: (602) 267-4173; Fax: (602) 267-4274; E-mail:

Camp Rainbow, Prescott

A special camp for children who have or have had cancer. Caring staff. Medical team on-site. Phone: (602) 239-4096; Fax: (602) 239-3809

Camp Wamatochick, Prescott

Campers thrive in beautiful outdoor setting with Ponderosa pine and boulder outcrops. Phone: (800) 888-7954; Fax: (602) 954-7352; E-mail:

Camp Charles Pearlstein, Prescott

Communal Jewish living in the pines. Friendly and caring environment. Emphasis on creative program. Phone: (480) 951-0323; Fax: (480) 951-7150

Friendly Pines Camp, Prescott

Traditional third-generation camp in the tall pines. More than 30 activities, including horses, waterskiing, tennis, hiking and rope course. Phone: (520) 445-2128; E-mail:

Lions Camp Tatiyee Inc, Lakeside

Provides a camping experience for challenged individuals among their peers. Phone: (602) 275-2604; E-mail:


Orme Summer Camp, Mayer

Riding and rodeo camp on Orme Ranch. Crafts, archery, riflery, survival, tennis, mountain biking, swimming, sports. Phone: (520) 632-7601; Fax: (520) 632-7605; E-mail:

Saguaro Camp Cherith, Prescott

Christ-centered outdoor program with craft and game electives based on age and interests. Experienced dedicated staff. Phone: (602) 588-0731

Lights, camera, action!

Although these summer camps aren't accredited by the ACA, they sound like a whole lot of Hollywood-style fun.

Olympic Camps Film Institute, Scottsdale

Acting, filming and editing for children at least seven years old. Two sessions: July 8-19 and July 22 to August 2. $300 per session. Phone: (480) 614-2267.

Phoenix Film Institute, Scottsdale

Summer workshops focus on acting for children aged nine to 16. Four sessions in June, $140 each. Phone: (480) 947-4417.

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