It’s hard to tell who is the most overjoyed – the kids attending this year’s oceanfront Sunset Point Camp, the staff, or longtime program administrator Beth Chambers – now that the camp has reopened after cancellation of the popular summer program in 2020 due to the pandemic.
The camp, which has operated in Hull for more than 100 years, offers vacations to children of limited means ages 6 to 13 who are living in Hull, Brockton, Boston’s Dorchester, and other regional and South Shore communities. Some return year after year.
It is an opportunity for children to attend camp who could not otherwise afford to and “to be near the water and part of this beautiful town,” Chambers said.
This summer the program is operating as a day rather than an overnight camp due to COVID-19 considerations. The first session began June 28.
“We all look forward to the camp experience every summer, and last year we couldn’t have it,” Chambers told The Hull Times. “Even though it’s different this year, the goal was to bring the kids back. We’ve accomplished that, and everyone is excited to be here. We’re offering the same activities, including making s’mores, but in the afternoon rather than at night.”
While the camp did not operate last summer, campers and families in need continued to receive assistance through the services offered by Catholic Charities of Boston, which owns and operates Sunset Point Camp.
Besides offering swimming, kayaking, paddle boating, arts and crafts, sports, theater, and other recreational activities, the campers learn new talents and life-building skills that promote teamwork; they also benefit from the academic support they receive during their camp session. Community groups sponsor special activities, such as ice cream socials and an arcade night with prizes.
Daily transportation is provided to and from Sunset Point from either Brockton or Dorchester, along with two meals a day, snacks, and water.
From the winter of 1919 when a donated building was moved from Bumpkin Island to where it sits today as the dining hall to the addition of other buildings over the years, “we have been a part of this community,” said Chambers, who has been involved with the camp for more than 20 years. “The neighbors are thrilled to have the kids back this year. They love hearing them laughing and having a good time.”
The camp staff share the neighbors’ enjoyment of the children. Sunset Point Camp counselor Rebecca Rosenbaum heard about job openings from a classmate and decided to apply. She is among several Hull residents on the staff.
“I’ve always wanted to be a camp counselor because I hoped to give campers the opportunity to be themselves and to grow while enjoying their summer,” Rebecca said. “Being at camp is an amazing experience for these kids because they’re surrounded by the outdoors. No matter their home circumstances, they have a place where they can belong.”
Fellow Hull residents Callie Menice and Ian Pederson are also counselors there and love every minute of it. In fact, Callie said it “doesn’t even feel like work” to her.
Ian first started as a counselor in 2019 and has found the best part of this year’s reopening to be the opportunity to reconnect with campers he met during an earlier session.
He believes that the camp provides a source of stability to kids who may often encounter uncertainty in their lives. “Over the course of my time with the camp, I’ve seen a number of returning campers grow, develop, and prosper, transitioning from energetic and playful kids to mature and respectable young adults,” he said.
This is also Callie’s second year working at the camp. “I became involved because my mom, dad, aunts, uncles, brothers – anyone you can think of – worked there,” she said. “My dad was actually the camp director at one point.”
Because her father lives across the street from the camp, Callie has observed over the years how much fun the kids have there.
“This is why I was so upset that we did not have camp last year; these kids need this camp. They need the fun and smiles. It’s [amazing] how much joy they give us, too. I’ve noticed how happy the campers are simply going to the beach and seeing a rock or even just walking down the street to go crab hunting They find such simple things and make them beautiful. I love it.”
Ongoing support from the local community is appreciated by all involved with the camp. “We have a wonderful contingency of donors from Hull, both those who have been familiar with the camp for many years and newcomers to town. They live in the community and give back by donating” to a worthy cause, Chambers said.
For further information, to sponsor a camper, or to make a donation, visit www.ccab.org/sunset.