You are exactly where you need to be.
To offer experiences that model and nurture a culture of inclusion, grace, and joy, through which people with and without disabilities can transcend barriers and value both their own gifts and the talents of others.
To make the world outside of Camp Sunshine a more affirming and inclusive place by inspiring agents of change with transforming experiences and relationships.
What We Offer
There is joyful spirit about Camp Sunshine that is transformative for every person who participates. We promote through words and actions a culture that honors each person with total acceptance and unconditional love.
Since 1983, Camp Sunshine has offered people aged 12 to 50 with developmental disabilities summer camp experiences in a safe, caring, and inclusive environment. We offer four-day overnight camp sessions with activities designed to meet participants’ recreational, emotional, physical, spiritual, and relational needs. Uniquely, each camper is paired one-to-one with a volunteer counselor for their entire four days at camp. Camp Sunshine creates spaces for campers to feel included, learn from others, and grow in friendship. Within our programs, volunteers receive as much as they give and learn as much as they teach. Most of all, we have fun!
The pandemic spurred us to think creatively about how we can share the powerful culture of inclusion in spite of not being able safely to gather for overnight camp. We’ve developed programs that, through virtual connections, online events, Sunshine-in-a-box deliveries, and more, assure that our community is supported, included, and loved exactly as they are—and offer avenues for us to invite others to join us.
We invite you to become a part of the Camp Sunshine community as a camper, volunteer, counselor, or financial supporter. Know that you will receive as much as you give, and learn as much as you teach. Join us in spreading and living the word that all are welcomed and loved for who they are.
There is something sacred about being part of a group where everyone is loved and accepted
“just the way they are.”
1983: Camp Sunshine began when several parents requested a summer camp experience for their children with special needs. The late Marcy Vanderwel founded Camp Sunshine at Geneva Camp and Conference Center with volunteers who provided a one-on-one camper/counselor ratio for 23 original campers.
1998: Cindy Terlouw was named Executive Director following Marcy Vanderwel's retirement. Camp Sunshine was incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a volunteer Board of Directors.
2000: Camp Sunshine moved to Camp Blodgett, located along the Lake Michigan shoreline in West Olive, Michigan. This move allowed better scheduling and increased capacity. Camp Sunshine doubled its number of volunteers and campers served. Founder, Marcy Vanderwel, passed away in August after the summer camp session.
2014: Camp Sunshine added a second location at Camp Henry in Newyago, Michigan. This addition allowed two additional four-day sessions and more campers.
2017: Taylor Antoski was named the Executive Director and Brie Richardson became Program Director. Camper and volunteer capacity continued to grow.
Today: We remain committed to our one-on-one camper/counselor ratio and continue to rely on committed volunteers and community support.