Camp Sunshine: Part 3


Life isn’t always fair. It’s certainly not for the families attending Camp Sunshine, coping with a child diagnosed
with cancer. And yet somehow, they manage to find a silver lining. “You have two choices when your child’s
diagnosed. One, let it destroy you and blame everyone and you won’t get anywhere. Or two, you take it for what it is
and live each day as you do and make the best of it. As hard as cancer is and everything that you go through. All
the unforseeable situations that you’re going to have to go through, whatever God chooses for us to deal with, we’ll
deal with it. But the people you become and the people that you’re children become, it’s honestly an amazing
experience,” says Melissa Dugan whose daughter Amber is battling cancer. Other parents agree, “everything we do in
life we can choose to make it our lemon or our lemonade. I choose to make lemon bars!”

These families, so couragious and strong, take in every moment at camp together. They make connections and share a
bond only they can really understand. “From the second we got here, you can just feel the safety,” says one
parent. Onalaska resident Stefani Haar is at camp for the third time, “This has been one of the most cathardic
experiences. If i won a million dollars tomorrow I would be happy to give it to Camp Sunshine because this opportunity
is everything to some of these families.”

And at the end of this emotional week, they come together one last time and bring with them a little project they’ve
built. It’s just a block of wood, with a splash of decoration, but it symbolizes so much more. It’s called wish
boat. With a candle aboard, they each make a wish and then watch it set sail. Some of the wishes made; “We wished for
permanent remission for our son.” “I think I want to keep that secret.” “Hope everybody’s better.” “That there’s a
cure for cancer soon.” “That my sister wouldn’t have cancer.” “That all cancer would be cured eventually.” “I wish
that she’d grow up and have a family of her own.” “I wish that there’d be no more kids with cancer and that they’d all
be happy.” “I wished for there to be no more complications with our daughters treatment and that she’ll stay in
permanent remission.”

Each person leaves here changed realizing they’re not alone in this struggle. They’re going home with a renewed
strength to fight. But none of them will ever forget their time at Camp Sunshine. “You leave here, but it doesn’t
leave you.”

Three Bears Lodge in Jellystone has added two more camps this year and hope to increase the number even more next
year. To be able to do that, they need two things: First, monetary donations. Each family is sponsored by a business
or individual. Second, the volunteers that give up a week of their lives to help. They do everything from organizing
activities to cooking and are invited to stay in the villas and get all their meals for free. If you would like more
information on either of these ways to help, you can visit Camp Sunshine’s website at