Child cancer program comes to Israel

Camp Sunrise Israel to offer respite to young cancer patients.

Israel Cancer Association (photo credit: Israel Cancer Association)
Israel Cancer Association
(photo credit: Israel Cancer Association)
Camp Sunrise, a program for children with cancer and their siblings, will make its way from Long Island this summer to the community center in Even Yehuda, where it will be offered free of charge from August 8 to August 26.
The idea behind the day camp is to help the entire family, not just the child suffering from cancer.
“What happens when one of the kids is diagnosed with cancer is that usually one of the parents stops working and starts being with the child 24/7, while the other parent continues working really hard to support the family,” says Deddy Paz, the camp’s executive director. “It puts incredible stress on all family members, and often the healthy siblings get much less attention from the parents.”
While there are many organizations that take care of children with cancer, healthy siblings sometimes have to do without summer camp because, as only one parent might be working, the family may not have the funds.
Camp Sunrise was created to fix this predicament.
“We’re going to have a quality camp that will accommodate children with cancer and give them an opportunity to experience a regular day camp, which they otherwise would not be able to do,” said Evan Muney, an owner of Camp Kimama, an international program in Israel that brings together Jewish children from around the world for a North American-style sleep-away camp experience. Camp Kimama will support and help supervise Camp Sunrise Israel.
Each day’s program at the day camp for cancer patients and their siblings will be unconnected to any other day’s. This way, if a child is too ill to attend, he or she will be able to return to a completely new day of activities that are not dependent on previous attendance.
Some 120 children will be attending the camp.
“Our dream is to be able to take many more kids and to open the camp for seven weeks, not three,” said Paz.
With one staff member for every three children, the activities will include arts and crafts, sports, swimming, nature, theater and music.
Funding will come from the Friedberg Jewish Community Center on New York’s Long Island, as well as from Friends of Sunrise Israel. Other funding has been raised in Israel.
“The way we see it, the majority of the money to enable the camp to run for the entire summer should be raised in Israel,” Paz said.
Camp Sunrise Israel isn’t being advertised. Instead, registration is taking place through the pediatric units at the Rambam, Sheba, Hadassah, Dana and Schneider medical centers.
And families are really grateful for the program.
“In New York, parents walk up to camp staff and simply give them a hug to thank them for providing the opportunity,” Muney said.