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Reopening Sunset Point Camp: A summer oasis for inner-city youth

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For over 100 years, Catholic Charities of Boston's (CCAB) Sunset Point Camp in Hull has operated an overnight week-long seaside camp for low-income, at-risk children aged six-13 from Greater Boston and the South Shore. Many campers live with the harsh realities of poverty, violence, homelessness, and a host of other challenges; spending a week away at summer camp helps them learn new skills, make friends, receive academic summer support, build personal confidence, and enjoy a vacation free from the worries of everyday life.

COVID-19 forced Sunset Point Camp to remain closed for summer 2020. Although camp was closed, staff remained in contact with campers and their families throughout the year to assist with accessing life's basic necessities during a time of immense uncertainty. Staff directed families to CCAB's food pantries in Dorchester and Brockton to help them provide healthy meals for their families. In addition, CCAB provided holiday assistance to over 100 camp families. Our generous donor support enabled us to continue serving our camp families differently throughout the past year.

We are excited to announce that Sunset Point Camp will reopen as a day camp only at the end of this month, operating Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., with 35 campers attending per week. Registration is just $25 per camper, making Sunset Point Camp accessible to youth who may otherwise not be able to participate in recreational activities in the summertime. Transportation is provided to campers from either Brockton or Dorchester, along with two meals per day. Programming and operational costs are primarily funded through donations.

Sunset Point Program Director Ivana Correia-Veiga shares, "I have had many heartfelt conversations with camp families who are so appreciative that camp is reopening this year, even just as a day camp instead of overnight like years past. Camp is tremendously important for our campers' social development, and getting them outside, away from televisions and computers, is especially welcome this year."

She continues, "Our staff are extremely excited to be back at camp this summer and are grateful for the opportunity to work again. Every staff member is making an effort to be fully vaccinated by the first day of camp to ensure everyone's safety this summer. It is inspiring to see their collective effort to make this another memorable, safe, and fun summer for the kids at Sunset Point Camp."

Following COVID-19 guidelines, camp staff will implement daily COVID screenings before any staff member or camper is allowed on-site for the day, while adhering to mask-wearing and social distancing recommendations. Updated sanitation practices and meal service practices will help to maintain a safe and healthy environment for all campers and staff.

Ivana explains, "We are thrilled to offer all our usual camp activities, including pool time, talent shows, treasure hunts, sports, and other games, with minor changes in accordance with COVID-19 guidelines. Our goal is to keep all activities outside as much as possible, keeping everyone healthy while allowing them to have fun."

About 90 percent of the Sunset Point campers live below the poverty line; the other 10 percent fall just above the federal poverty index. Providing parents with options like Sunset Point Camp for their children during out-of-school times can literally be life-saving. In addition to fun recreational games and activities, campers are involved in a variety of programs designed around life-building skills promoting teamwork, sportsmanship, and healthy choices, while cultivating a sense of leadership, self-discipline, and self-esteem.

Families primarily learn about Sunset Point Camp through their involvement in other CCAB programs. The majority of campers come from the Greater Boston and Brockton areas, but over the years, children attended from the South Shore, North Shore, and beyond.

While campers' families pay a registration fee of $25 to send one child to Sunset Point Camp for a week, it costs much more to support hundreds of campers every summer. With your help, we will continue to give children in need a summer to remember.

If you are interested in sponsoring a camper or learning more about Sunset Point Camp, please visit ccab.org/sunset.

JACQUELINE CUNNIFF IS MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER FOR CATHOLIC CHARITIES OF BOSTON.



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