Rochester Rotary Sunshine Camp Celebrating its 100th Anniversary
Sunshine Camp is the only facility of its kind in Greater Rochester that gives children with special needs a fully accessible camping experience
ROCHESTER, N.Y., Feb. 22, 2022 — Rochester Rotary Sunshine Camp is celebrating its 100th year of serving children and youth with disabilities.
2022 marks the centennial year of this fully accessible residential summer camp that serves children with paralysis and other physical challenges and their families. Originally located on 23 acres of land near Durand-Eastman Park when it opened on June 12, 1922, the camp relocated to its current 157-acre site in Rush in 1974. During its first summer, 60 children attended the camp; that number has grown to more than 2,500 children served each summer.
“It is amazing that members of our Rochester Rotary club had the foresight a century ago to create a summer camp for kids with special abilities,” said Rochester Rotary President Scott Rasmussen. “Our club members are instrumental in keeping the camp going today, and we look forward to celebrating this special anniversary with our camp partners and with the community.”
Rochester Rotary announced today a series of public and club events throughout the year to celebrate the anniversary, including:
- April 27, 2022: the Construction for Sunshine Kids reception - the Rochester Building and Construction Trades Council and Builders Exchange of Rochester join forces to raise funds for the camp
- May 16 to May 19, 2022: Wegman’s Days of Caring at the camp, when Wegmans employees will volunteer to help get the camp ready for the summer
- May 18, 2022: release of a Sunshine Camp 100th anniversary beer, a fruited American blond ale, made by Heroes Brewing Company
- June 4, 2022: a classic car road rally that will run from Durand Eastman Park – the original Sunshine Camp site –to the current site in Rush
- June 22, 2022: a 100th anniversary Rochester Rotary luncheon at the camp
- July 14, 2022: Camp Carnival, featuring a dunk tank, bounce houses, face painting, games and train rides and a parade
- July 24 and 25, 2022: a special appearance by an LPGA Hall of Famer at Locust Hill Country Club (more details will be announced this spring)
- July 2022 (day to be announced): dedication of the newly renovated Robert Wegman Lodge, paid for by the Wegman family
- Oct. 9, 2022: the fourth annual Sunshine Camp Trail Mix event featuring 5K and a 10K courses, and a 1-mile walk on Oct. 8, 2022
- Nov. 4, 2022: the Sunshine Kids Gala, which raises funds for the camp
- (Date to be announced): Rochester Rotary Sunshine Camp Night at a Rochester Red Wings game at Frontier Field
More details about these events and how the public can sign up for them will be made available closer to the events dates on Rochester Rotary’s website at rochesterrotary.org.
Rochester Rotary also is trying to locate alumni who worked at or attended camp through the decades to invite to the anniversary events. Camp staff or camper alumni can sign up to get more event information at the Sunshine Camp website: https://www.sunshinecamp.org/alumni/
Rochester Rotary Executive Director Tracey Dreisbach said, “For 100 years, Rochester Rotary Sunshine Camp has provided a summer camp for kids with disabilities where they can just be kids, without any barriers – and it gives parents a much-needed respite. Our community can help us continue providing a camping experience for area children with physical challenges for many years to come by participating in the events we have planned this year.”
Ann Snyder, whose son Jake has attended camp since 2010, said, “This has been Jake’s favorite week of the whole year every year since he started at Sunshine Camp. And he likes to take in every bit that camp offers by trying everything and challenging himself, cheered on by his fellow campers and counselors. He’s excited ever year to go back and see what cabin he’ll be in, which friends he’ll reconnect with and what counselors are back again.”
Rochester Rotary Sunshine Camp provides a unique camping experience that area children cannot get anywhere else, including a fully accessible treehouse, a sensory center (Gizzi Family Sensory Center), a fully accessible playground (Shirley’s Playland), a climbing wall, zip line, splash pad, archery, boating, fishing, miniature golf, swimming, and arts and crafts.
Rochester Rotary offers a two-week program at the camp to children with disabilities at no charge, thanks to generous contributions from Rochester Rotarians and from the community. During the rest of the summer, the camp is enjoyed by campers from partner agencies, including American Diabetes Association, Camp Haccamo (supported by Rotary Clubs of Monroe County), Camp Joy, Cancer Support Community Rochester, EPI (Empowering People’s Independence), and Heritage Christian Services.
Camper applications for the 2022 season are now being accepted. The camp also is accepting applications for staff positions.
About Rochester Rotary Sunshine Camp
Rochester Rotary Sunshine Camp (sunshinecamp.org), a fully accessible residential summer camp in Rush, N.Y., has met the needs of children with paralysis and other physical challenges and their families since 1922. Each summer, children and young-adult campers (ages 7 to 21 years old) with disabilities take advantage of this 157-acre campground. It is the only camping facility of its kind in Greater Rochester that gives children with special needs unique overnight camping experiences. The camp is owned by Rochester Rotary Charitable Trusts Inc. and operated by the Rochester Rotary Club.