Frequently asked questions
What do I wear while at camp?
As you begin to pack your bags, we ask that you are thoughtful of the mission of Camp Sunshine and all that it serves. Please be respectful of both campers and other counselors as you plan your camp-attire. Be comfy! T-shirts and gym shorts are popular at camp! A modest tankini or 1 piece swimsuit for females is appropriate for water activities.
Here is a packing list which you can also find on our website under the counselor tab.
What does a typical day look like while at camp?
Check out our sample daily schedules listed on our website under the counselor tab. Specific details will be posted on schedules all around campus and on the back of your name tag!
If you would like to know what a typical day entails more in detail, check out our “Counselor Advice” resource
What if I have special dietary needs?
Information you noted on each application is communicated to the kitchen and medical staff. Based on that information, there will be alternatives provided at every meal to meet all dietary needs.
If you have a special circumstance you’d like to discuss, please contact the office and we will do our best to accomodate you. A sample menu is posted under the ‘counselor’ tab on our website in the resource center. Check it out!
Can I earn college or high school credit for my time at camp?
Yes! Our counselors come from over 55 high schools/colleges throughout Michigan and surrounding states. In previous years we have collaborated with Hope College’s education program, Baker College nursing program, Grand Valley State University’s Physical and Occupational Therapy programs, Western Michigan’s sports management program, and Holland Christian volunteer program amongst others.
If you think your college or high school might be interested in collaborating with a credit-program, please contact us at
How can I share about my Camp Sunshine experience?
Can’t stop thinking about your experience at camp? Are you passionate about sharing your experience with those in your community?
Contact us at
email@example.com for recruiting resources or to share your Sunshine story.
How can I get someone to come in and talk to my school/organization about Camp Sunshine?
We would love the opportunity to come and connect with a school, group, or organization that might have interest in volunteering at Camp Sunshine.
Contact us at
firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
What is Camp Sunshine?
Camp Sunshine is a summer camp for individuals ages 12 to 50 with mild to moderate cognitive impairments. We offer four-day, three-night camp sessions at two locations in Michigan --Camp Blodgett in West Olive and Camp Henry in Newaygo.
Each camper is paired with a volunteer counselor for the entire camp session. This individual attention affords all campers the opportunity to participate in many activities that may not be available in their home settings.
Each year features a different theme. Food, activities, creative expressions, spiritual lessons, music, and recreation are all based on the theme. Music plays a prominent role at camp, with campers singing every morning, after lunch and every evening. Whether it is singing during during the sunset, acting during morning lessons, playing games, creating crafts, or taking center stage at the talent show, everyone is valued and loved for who they are at Camp Sunshine.
To see a video about camp, please click
How do I apply?
Applications are accepted starting November 1st. Returners who apply and fully complete their application before March 1 will receive Camp Sunshine garb as part of our “Loyal-T” program.
All applications are submitted online via
Camp Doc. In addition to your application, three references are required to submit
this form on your behalf. Applications will not be reviewed until all three reference forms have been received.
If you need assistance completing your application, please email
email@example.com. For Camp Doc registration tips, click
What if the session I want to attend is full?
If the session you would like to register for is full, you are welcome to register for our wait list. However we highly suggest you consider if dates for another session with openings might work in your schedule. We typically have double the female applicants, so our waitlist is quite lengthy. If you absolutely can only attend one particular session, please let us know by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
How much does camp cost?
There is no cost for counselors to attend camp. However, we provided the opportunity to donate to camp as part of the application process if desired. Each camp/counselor pair costs $1,000 to attend camp. We fundraise throughout the year to gather $700 of this expense and ask that each camper covers the remaining $300.
Is Camp Sunshine a day-camp or an overnight camping experience?
Camp Sunshine is an overnight camp experience. However, based on level of care and previous camp experiences, our team considers the day-camper role for applicants that might benefit from transitioning into camp in this manner. Counselors who are paired with a day camper will always stay the night and provide additional support for their cabin mates.
How long is a camp session?
Four days and three nights, with the fourth day concluding by noon. Check in on the first day is between 9am-10am and check out is on the 4th day between 11am-12pm.
Where does Camp Sunshine take place?
Camp Sunshine has partnerships with two facilities in Michigan: Camp Blodgett and Camp Henry.
We currently offer two sessions at each location. Camp Blodgett is located off the shores of the beautiful Lake Michigan in West Olive which north of Holland about 15 minutes. Camp Henry is located in Newaygo Michigan and settled upon a breathtaking view of Lake Kimball.
What time does camp start? End? When do I check in?
A mandatory orientation is required before each counselor can serve at camp. Dates/times are listed in acceptance letters shared out via Camp Doc email correspondence.
A second round of orientation training begins at 7am on day 1 of the session as noted in your acceptance letter. Camp concludes on noon on the fourth day of the session as noted in your acceptance letter depending on what time your camper’s parent/guardian arrives and completes the required check-out.
It is imperative counselors are able to attend for the entirety of the session they registered for.
What is the Central Registry Clearance? Who completes it? Where do I send it?
A comprehensive background check is conducted on all volunteers. For volunteers who are 21 and above, we conduct an additional background check called “Central Registry Clearance.” The top portion must be completed by the volunteer interested in serving at camp.
Additionally a copy of a current driver’s license must be submitted to our office via email to
email@example.com or mail (430 E. 8th Street, PMB 200, Holland, MI 49423) it to the office. We send batches of the forms to our State of Michigan contact who complete the comprehensive review.
What is the food like?
We serve three nutritious meals a day, along with an afternoon and evening snack. Our menus vary from year to year but may include things like, pizza, sandwiches and salad, or burgers all with sides of vegetables or fruit. Breakfasts can include sausage, pancakes, cereal, eggs, yogurt bar, etc.
Who do I contact in the case of an emergency during camp sessions?
In the case of an emergency or if you are in need to contact Camp Sunshine during a session please call (616) 422-4763.
What are the sleeping arrangements?
While the cabin setup varies between camp locations, we typically have 7-10 campers in each single-gender cabin. Each camper-counselor pair sleep in cabins with campers sleeping on the bottom bunk while their counselor sleeps on the top bunk. Each cabin is equipped with electricity and a bathroom. Campers are never left unsupervised.
Who leads the camp? How are they screened?
Our camps are staffed in three capacities: our year round part-time staff, volunteer leadership team and volunteer counselors.
Our year round consists of an executive director, two program directors, a director of operations, a communications and marketing coordinator, recruiter, and special events manage. To learn more about our year round staff, click
Our leadership team consists of approximately 40 volunteers per session who come from a wide range of experiences and professions. Each camp is supported by a minimum of four nursing professionals.
Our counselors are typically high school and college-aged students, however applications are open to anyone interested and passion about the mission of Camp Sunshine above the age of 16.
All volunteers receive a comprehensive background check and undergo a thorough application process, three reference check, and a 3.5 hour training prior to camp.
What if I need to take medication while at camp?
All medications, including over-the-counter medications, are kept in a secure location with our nursing staff. Counselors will have access to these medications at each meal time. If a specific time outside of mealtimes is required, this can be established with our medical staff.
Counselors are responsible for picking up their medications before leaving campus. Medications that are left behind will be properly disposed of within 48 hours of the conclusion of the camp session which the counselor served.
What is the staff ratio at camp?
Each camper is paired 1:1 with a counselor. Based on the level of care required, campers may be paired with two counselors. In addition to this 1:1 ratio is the support of 40+ on our leadership team.
Is Camp Sunshine a faith-based camp?
A “faith-based” camp has affiliation with a particular church and/or may teach a particular religious perspective. While Camp Sunshine’s roots are in the Reformed Christian tradition and has many campers, staff, and volunteers who resonate with that tradition, it has not been a camp that teaches an exclusive belief system.
Camp Sunshine does not impose nor does it oppose any one faith tradition. It is a camp independent of any religious institution, yet values spirituality as foundational to our community life. We value a spirit of sacred holiness in each person and strive to instill that sacred spirit in our relationships. In its inclusive nature to offer physical, social, emotional, and spiritual growth, Camp Sunshine continues to grow broader in wisdom lessons from many traditions.
Camp Sunshine is about "following the WAY of goodness and grace, of peace and justice, of care for earth and all her creatures - these are the WAYS of Jesus, MLK, Gandhi, Buddha, and our Indigenous Elders. More than a belief system this is a way of living together.” We follow the lead of our campers beliefs, needs, and values. That means we sometimes sing “Jesus loves Me” or “God is so Good" at a camper’s request. We may share a greeting of “Namaste” or offer a prayer to the Great Spirit.
We share our lessons and reflections from whatever spiritual tradition as they speak love, respect, and acceptance for our Sunshine community.
Can counselors attend Camp Sunshine for more than one session per year?
This is determined on a year-to-year basis based on number of applicants we receive. Typically we have double the female applicants for counselors spots available. With this in mind, it is common that we accept females to only one session. We highly suggest females apply only for the one sessions which is their first preference. At this time, male counselors are able to serve multiple sessions.
I was placed on the waitlist or I cannot commit to volunteering at Camp Sunshine this summer for the full session. Is there another way to get involved with the Camp Sunshine community?
Yes! We invite you to join us at our annual Run for the Sun 5K event which takes place each July. To learn more click
We also invite you to experience Camp as a day-volunteer. We have a variety options available
here. Sign up is available April of each year
Additionally, our annual Talent Shows which occur on the 3rd night of each camp session. Our shows at our Camp Blodgett location (10451 Lakeshore Drive, West Olive, MI 49460) begin at 6:30 pm and at our Camp Henry location (5575 Gordon AVE, Newaygo, MI 49337) at 7pm.