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Stories from Day Camp Sunshine

New Sunshine Camp Bus Program

“If we can’t bring inner city kids to Day Camp Sunshine, let’s bring the camp to them!” was the idea that sparked the initiative for Sunshine Camp Bus (SCB).  Todd Haraldsen, Director of Sunshine Day Camp, and Chris Hendrickson, Assistant Director, are committed to sharing the Gospel. There were 135 kids who professed faith in Christ over the summer of 2016. We offer camp scholarships to families in need, which has proven to be very powerful. Yet camp scholarships only help us serve the children who are able to get to our place. 

Todd and Chris have developed an amazing solution: stuff a vehicle with basic day camp equipment and two counselors, and bring day camp to churches in Newark. The idea is to connect with churches in the city who may have a facility, but not the means to offer day camp recreation to kids in the area. The Fellowship Deaconry (FDM) will partner with such churches and send our “Sunshine Camp Bus” to them for a day. The church will provide space and volunteers and FDM will provide the rest.

Ms. Shelly Bell, a member of our Board of Directors, and an activist for Christ in the Newark area, loves the idea.  Ms. Bell believes there are many churches that would be on board with the program, and who would be willing and able to pay a daily fee to cover the costs.  Countless kids would hear the Gospel and have what may possibly be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience God reaching out to them, even if they can’t get to camp.

Our estimated budget to get this program up and running is $75,000. Our needs to jump start this program are: a vehicle (bus or large van), equipment and two additional counselors.  If you have an in-kind donation, maybe an extra bus or sports equipment you want to donate, we can use that too! Once we are running, the participation of local churches will sustain the program.  As our “Sunshine Camp Bus” thrives in Newark, we hope to expand the program to other areas, including, possibly, Patterson and Trenton.  We’ll see how the Lord leads. If the Lord gives you any ideas, or moves upon your heart to help start this program, let us know. If you have any questions or an in-kind donation, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or you can donate online at www.deaconry.org/donate

 

 

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Day Camp Sunshine Update

Sunshine. Slushies. Swimming. Sunscreen. Sweet Shop. Songs. Sports. Sleepovers. Smiling Faces. Staff. Salvations. While each of these accurately depicts an aspect of Day Camp Sunshine (DCS), none describes the true essence and nature of DCS. The singular word that would truly capture and portray the ministry of DCS is relationships.

Having been involved in nineteen summers of sleep away camp, I felt confident and knowledgeable jumping into the day camp environment. I was blown away with the deep connection and close relationships the staff developed with their campers as well as with each other over the course of nine weeks. The very foundation and roots of DCS also boils down to one significant relationship. Our staff poured out their heart and soul introducing their campers to Jesus Christ and cultivating a personal relationship with Him.

As we inched closer to our ninth and final week of camp, campers responded to their counselors with deeper questions about Heaven & God. When that final day of camp arrived, tears trickled down the faces of the veteran counselor, the macho twelve year old boy and the youngest, most innocent Kindergarten girl. The final chapter of the summer had come and like every amazing book, you wanted it to continue. Why? Campers felt loved and accepted by their counselors, while counselors loved ministering to their kids and showing them God’s love.

All in all, over 50 counselors representing 6 continents, 11 different countries and 4 states ministered to 391 families, 547 campers and a total of 2,437 youth over 9 weeks. Countless spiritual discussions took place, numerous seeds planted, and God rewarded the staff in seeing the fruit of their labor with many kids accepting Christ. Praise God for the lives impacted at Day Camp Sunshine in 2015.

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Sandbox Salvation


On July 28, 2015 at 3:30 pm, 271 screaming campers sprinted towards the high ropes course, anxiously awaiting the next event in the most crazy and competitive week of camp: Color Wars! Less than two hundred yards away, quietly perched on a wooden bench under an oak tree near a sand box, sat two young seven year old boys quietly speaking with their counselor. Perplexed as to why these two boys had not joined the throng of madness at the all camp activity, I strolled over to them.

Mr. Amos saw me coming and provided an amazing opportunity. “Would you talk to this young man? He has questions about Heaven, but thinks he is already going simply because his parents are Christians.” For the next ten minutes, Mr. Amos & I separately shared the Gospel and God’s plan of salvation with the young boys.

Two hundred yards away from us, 271 campers laughed, yelled & participated in an activity at the climbing tower while two young boys sat silently contemplating the amazing story of Jesus dying on a cross for them. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit and Mr. Amos’ commitment to his young camper’s spiritual condition, both boys prayed to accept Christ as their personal Savior. Despite the amazing amount of fun being had at the high ropes course just a stone’s throw away, a sand box is where two boys confessed their sin and entered the kingdom of Heaven. While the high ropes course is an amazing tool that captivates our campers, God used a simple, wooden bench under an oak tree near a sand box to bring two boys to a saving knowledge of an act of love that occurred on a different tree two thousand years ago.

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Day Camp Sunshine: Stories of Impact

“I was waiting until midnight so I could register my children for camp once it opened. I fell asleep, but I woke up at 1:00am so I got on the computer to register.”

This was a phone call from a dad who was new to camp last summer. He was so impressed with camp that not only did he register right away, he has referred many new families. He is one of our biggest supporters. There are two big reasons, whether he knows it or not, that Day Camp Sunshine (DCS) is so special. The first is the power of camp. Summer camps have an opportunity to reach children in many special ways. It gets them out in nature as well as gets them to be active. It helps their imagination to soar. It also helps them learn to interact with each other face-to-face (no electronics allowed). Camp teaches creativity, social skills, independence, good sportsmanship, life skills, and building lasting friendships.

The second reason camp is so powerful, at least for us at Day Camp Sunshine, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is the quintessential reason why we exist in the first place. Seeing the campers lives changed because of the work of the Holy Spirit is an incredible thing. For many of the campers, camp is the only place they get to hear/learn about God. We witness lives impacted by the work done on the cross that Jesus sacrificed Himself on. There is no greater thing. Last summer we saw over 23 campers make a decision for Christ. For many others, it was an opportunity to be discipled – to truly understand what it means to be a follower of Christ.

As a product of camp myself, I know the impact it can have on a person. As a matter of fact, it’s been the majority of my career. With that said, we have many families who would love to send their child/teen to DCS but can’t afford it. That’s where you come in. Maybe God has blessed you so you can bless others. Would you be willing to sponsor a child for a week or two of camp? If you are able, could you donate $370 for a 1st-6th grader, or $400 for a teen camper? Maybe that is more than you can afford, so how about $50 or $100? Whatever amount you are able to give will be appreciated. As Jesus said in Matthew 25:40, “Inasmuch as ye have done unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done unto me.” Thank you for your support.

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Day Camp Sunshine: Stories of Impact

2014 was a very special summer and in our end of season parent survey, the families told us exactly how it had impacted not only their child’s life, but their lives as well.

“Where do I start? This was the BEST camp experience we ever had! My son changed so much during and after camp it was amazing. He was more focused, willing to try new things...I can go on and on! He made new friends, loved his counselors and he can’t wait to come back next year. I was just as sad as he was when it ended.”

“I am personally so very THANKFUL to have DCS in my “backyard”! What an incredible experience for my kids to attend a Christian Camp that is loving and serving God, the kids, and the community of parents and beyond. Please keep doing what you are doing!!”

“My son was absolutely thrilled with the camp. He loved his counselors, the bible study, and all the activities. He would tell me about the bible lessons each day, different things about his counselors and all the fun. His self-esteem and confidence really grew as well as his behavior. My daughter also flourished under your camp. The kindness, friendship and showing respect for others are life lessons and experiences that will last a lifetime.”

“My children absolutely adored DCS this past summer!! In fact, just two days ago my daughter was retelling the story of Jonah and the Whale to her brother, in 3rd grade CCD, who didn’t remember it! I loved hearing about their Bible study every afternoon. They loved it and we can’t wait to come back next summer!! Thank you for providing such a true day camp in our area!”

“I cannot even express how grateful we are to have found such a great camp so close to home! DCS met and greatly exceeded our expectations and is worth every penny we paid. We were praying for a great place to send our Girls for the summer and our prayers were answered. Thank you!”

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