Camp Rising Sun offers summer fun for kids battling cancer

MILLPORT, Ala. (WCBI) – Timberlake Ministries just outside of Millport is playing host to a unique Summer camp. For 37 years Camp Rising Sun has had a single mission.

“We are a camp for children ages 6-16 who have been diagnosed and treated for cancer,” said Jason Kirkland, Director of Marketing and Social Media for Camp Rising Sun.

Regardless of whether they are in treatment or remission, the patients and their siblings or a friend can attend at no cost.

It is 100% volunteer-based and they have medical staff on-site 24/7 to tend to any medical needs of the campers.

More importantly, it has dancing, fishing, archery, horseback riding, a talent show and so much more.

Camper Caleb Hammer says his favorite thing about the camp is spending time with the friends he’s made.

“I think it’s special because I get to meet other cancer patients and see what they’ve been through, and compare what I’ve been through to them,” Hammer said.

Danica Najarian loves the camp so much, that she travels from Missouri to get in on the fun.

“I have made so many friends, they’re all nice, all kind,” Najarian said. “This camp, I’ll be going to every year. Everybody is awesome.”

Volunteer Jason Kirkland says the camp’s main mission is to give these children the traditional camp experience, and just experience some normal summer fun.

“Campers get so used to interacting with hospital personnel,” Kirkland said. “They can talk to doctors and nurses about their condition, but a lot of times they just kind of forget how to be kids. We like to get them out of the hospital setting and get them around others who have experienced some similar things that they’ve gone through and give them a chance to be a kid.”

Co-director Allison Kizer says for the kids at Camp Rising Sun, their diagnosis doesn’t define them, and once they attend the camp, they become part of the family.

“I think from the camper perspective, it does feel like home and you get to come home once a year and see your friends that you’ve made,” Kizer said. “You develop close bonds. A lot of them with social media maintain contact even after camp. So they develop lifelong friends when they come.”

This year 49 children attended Camp Rising Sun.

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