June 12, 2019 10:24:41 AM
For 32 years, Camp Rising Sun has been beating the odds, facing down challenges and innovating, not unlike the kids for whom the camp was founded.
What started as a Junior Auxiliary project to provide children with cancer a week-long camp filled with a broad range of activities, Camp Rising Sun has been a fixture at Camp Henry Pratt each June. During that time, hundreds of young cancer patients have had the opportunity to put aside the medical issues that often dominate their worlds, to swim, hike, play games, make art, go on boat rides and -- perhaps most importantly -- be around kids who have had the shared experience of enduring cancer.
But with the end of camp this week, Camp Rising Sun may face its greatest challenge yet: finding a new home.
When the YMCA made the difficult decision to sell Camp Pratt two years ago, Camp Rising Sun was assured it would be able to return, at least short term.
If Camp Rising Sun opens for a 33rd year next June, it will do so at a new location.
The camp's board has been actively searching for a new home and a couple of possibilities have emerged, both within easy driving distance of Columbus, where most of the town's organizers and supporters live.
Finding a location that suits the camp's needs is no simple task, of course, but from what we have learned about the spirit that has prevailed since its inception, we are optimistic.
Over the years, Camp Rising Sun has attracted a diverse mix of supporters, a volunteer base that includes adults who once attended the camp as young cancer patients, civic organizations and private citizens. Some donate money. Many more volunteer their time.
The strength of the program has been its grassroots appeal and impressive volunteer support. Some volunteer for a day to help with a specific activity. Others arrive before camp begins and stay until the last camper has gone home. Civic groups sponsor a day at camp where their members turn out to stage the events.
There has always been an infectious spirit of optimism at Camp Rising Sun, which emanates from the kids themselves, kids that are often faced with grim realities yet retain the youthful spark of indomitable hope.
In that sense, the words of poet William Wordsworth are confirmed: The child is the father of the man.
No doubt, organizers and volunteers are inspired by the children they see each June, and it is that inspiration that drives them forward, no matter the obstacles that have emerged over the past three decades.
We believe the move from its familiar setting at Camp Pratt will prove to be just another challenge met.
Somehow, somewhere Camp Rising Sun will continue.
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