For more than 25 years, the American Cancer Society Arizona Camp Sunrise has been providing a camp experience for children who have or have had cancer.
However, this program, among many of the programs the American Cancer Society offers at no cost, has seen the effects of the struggling economy.
Hoping to continue the program, the American Cancer Society is seeking donations to keep camps like Sunrise going in the future.
On Sunday, July 19, 73 campers, ages 8 to 18, headed up to Payson’s R-Bar-C Boy Scout Ranch for a week.
Campers packed their sleeping bags, bug spray and outdoor gear to spend a week away from home. The one thing campers were not allowed to bring was any worries about their medical treatment.
Campers at Arizona Camp Sunrise have many things in common — they enjoy their daily classes, they share in time together during camp activities, they love seeing old friends and making new ones, and they all looked forward to the Jell-O War at the end of camp.
The one factor that unites them, is they have heard the words, “you have cancer.”
“Camp is a place where kids with cancer and their siblings can explore, just be kids and learn independence,” said volunteer camp director Melissa “M” Lee. “They get to connect with other kids who have similar experiences with cancer, make lasting friendships and get to just have fun.”
The camp is located on 78 acres of wilderness just outside of Payson.
Kids are free of their worries and have a great time with their friends. When campers are ready to go home, they pack many dirty socks, wet shoes and handmade crafts, but most importantly, they take with them the memories.
Campers who have attended Arizona Camp Sunrise have formed lifelong friendships and become apart of the Arizona Camp Sunrise family. Many campers have become volunteers and take time away from their jobs and daily lives.
Cancer survivor Megan Feller attended Arizona Camp Sunrise when she was 8 years old. She now works as a volunteer counselor for the camp. This summer will be Feller’s 15th summer at camp.
“When I see the way camp changes these kids for the better, I understand just how crucial it is for families to be able to send them here,” Feller said. “Donations are absolutely necessary in order to do the simplest tasks such as serving food to the campers, or to help us provide transport for those who live far away. Donations are what provide the foundation for volunteers like me to create a positive experience that these kids will carry with them all their lives.”
To donate to Arizona Camp Sunrise, log onto http://www.azcampsunrise.org or mail a check to the American Cancer Society at 4550 E. Bell Road, Suite 126, Phoenix, AZ 85032. Be sure to make the check out to the American Cancer Society and indicate in the memo that the donation is for Arizona Camp Sunrise.
For cancer information 24 hours a day, seven days a week, call the American Cancer Society at (800) 227-2345 or log onto www.cancer.org.