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Women's History Month

Celebrating the many women who formed Camp Sunshine!



The month of March is Women’s History Month, and a wonderful time for us to reflect on the contributions of the many women who have formed Camp Sunshine, both in the past and in our daily efforts in the present. 


Camp Sunshine was founded in 1983 by Holland-area educator Marcy Vanderwel, who was encouraged by a determined mother to create a summer camp experience accessible to her sons, Jimmy and Ron, who both had cerebral palsy. 

As the story goes, their mother Dorothy reached out to Marcy, expressing her


Marcy Vanderwel at Camp Sunshine in 1996
Marcy at Camp Sunshine in 1996

desire to send her sons to camp. Marcy picked up the challenge and Camp Sunshine was born. 


Although Marcy passed away in 2000, three more women have since led Camp Sunshine as executive director. In October 1998, Marcy passed the torch to Cindy Terlouw, who is better known as Sunshine Cindy. Under Cindy’s leadership Camp Sunshine became a 501(c)(3) with a board of directors to govern the organization in 1999. Through her efforts, Camp Sunshine relocated to Camp Blodgett in 2000 and expanded camp offerings in 2014 to Camp Henry, where we host two additional sessions. After Cindy’s retirement in 2017, Camp Sunshine’s leaders expanded the vision and mission of the organization - even in the midst of a pandemic. The two succeeding executive directors are Taylor Antoski and now Kathy Rohlman, who is the first full-time, year-round executive director. 

This month, we honor the many women who have given their time and energy to Camp Sunshine over the past 41 years, leading activities like recreation, our spiritual lessons, preparing our meals, offering medical care, leading our Board of Directors, and so much more. 

Beyond the incredible impact of women in our day-to-day work at Camp Sunshine, we recognize national figures like activist Judith Huemann. Her persistence “was instrumental in the development and implementation of other legislation including the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. These pieces of legislation have been integral in advancing the inclusion of disabled people in the US and around the world.” (Source)


We have also learned from voices like Dr. Amy Kenny, whose book My Body is Not a Prayer Request: Disability Justice in the Church was a revelation for our team. As she wrote in her book: “For every disabled person wondering whether you fit in, fretting that you are too much. You, with your canes, crutches, chemical sensitivities, and CART, are worthy of belonging. You are enough.” We carry her words with us! 

Without the many contributions of determined women, Camp Sunshine simply would not exist. Leave a comment telling us about any of the women who have made Camp Sunshine a special place for you!

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