Sunrise Day Camp-Pearl River

by Richard Rosenthal JCC of Northern Westchester
So Happy to be at the Reunion!
So Happy to be at the Reunion!

Every fall we hold a “Fall Festival Family Reunion” at camp in Rockland County before the weather turns cold to celebrate fall and bring campers, their families and staff together. It is always so wonderful to see everyone and enjoy the Sunrise facilities decorated with scarecrows, hay, pumpkins and other fall symbols. We planned for this fall’s reunion to take place at camp on Sunday, October 4.  It rained for a few days before that, so we moved the event to our off-season offices at the Rosenthal JCC in Pleasantville, but that did not hamper attendance, spirit or enthusiasm.

The morning of the reunion 11 volunteers (1 adult and 10 teens) arrived at the JCC to help decorate and set up for the day.  They set up the s’mores kits, filled backpacks with donated school supplies and cut out papers that were later used for art projects, and set up an outdoor corn “maze”! They also had a chance to learn about Sunrise from our Camp Director, Sandy Haft.  Then gradually about 25 Sunrise Staff members and 90 campers, siblings and parents from all over the Metro NY area – from various towns in New Jersey, Orange County, Rockland, the Bronx, Westchester and Manhattan, arrived by bus and car to enjoy the Fall Festivities at the JCC.  Laughter and joy filled the air as staff and campers greeted and hugged each other.

Campers and their families enjoyed participating in a variety of activities. The JCC was decorated for fall and we used most of the rooms in the facility for all of the different events. Campers and families had their photos taken and then they decorated photo frames. Other projects included creating door hangers and colorful fall-themed sun catchers, and pumpkin decorating.  Campers and families gobbled s’mores and chocolate covered pretzels, which they had made. Sports activities enjoyed by all included basketball, “Moon Bounce” jumper, outdoor playground and the outdoor corn maze.

At the end of the day, each child received a brand new school backpack that was filled with a variety of school supplies. The backpacks and supplies were collected by UJA Federation and given to Sunrise. The children were so thrilled with these backpacks! We were happy too about receiving the donations!

Thank you to all of the volunteers and donors who made this reunion possible. We couldn’t have done it without you!

Our next reunion will take place on December 20 at the JCC and this get together will be limited to children and camp staff.  We will have a musical performance for all to enjoy.  We invite the campers without parents to this reunion to allow parents to go holiday shopping or just enjoy some personal time. We can’t wait to see everybody again in December!

Campers and Staff Reuniting!
Campers and Staff Reuniting!
Pumpkin Decorating was Fun!
Pumpkin Decorating was Fun!
Camper enjoys the New Treehouse
Camper enjoys the New Treehouse

We just completed our 3rd summer at Sunrise Day Camp-Pearl River, and everyone had a fantastic summer! We were so sad to see camp end but so many wonderful memories of the summer were created that will last forever.

Our camper attendance reached an all-time high of 193 campers, up 44% versus the summer of 2014. Our campers traveled from all over the NY Metro region just to come to Sunrise: Rockland, Westchester, Orange County, Manhattan, Bronx, and 9 counties in New Jersey.

Everyone had a blast this summer! One of the most special treats of the summer was the opening of the new Sunrise Treehouse built by Pete Nelson of Animal Planet’s “Treehouse Masters” and financed by Quicken Loans. The treehouse is multi level, whimsically designed, handicapped accessible and fits beautifully into the landscape of the camp. Campers can enjoy activities such as music, board games, reading, and bowling on the upper level of the treehouse, and swings and hanging out on the lower level. We were so excited when Pete Nelson featured Sunrise on his TV show on Friday, August 21! You can watch the show by clicking on this link:

Another summer highlight was the annual “color war” in which campers and counselors were divided into 2 teams and enjoyed friendly competition for 3 days. This year’s color war break featured some animals that had escaped from their zoo and their zookeeper who was chasing after them! The 2 teams were the Orange Jaguars and the Green Pythons, and campers and staff dressed up in costume and body paint for all of color war. In 3 days, Sunrise campers and staff on each team designed and decorated a creative plaque and banner, and also performed a skit, song, and cheer all related to their team’s theme. One of the most craziest and exciting events of color war was the Apache Relay. Everyone at camp was involved in the Apache Relay and had a wonderful time. Color war is just pure fun and it doesn’t matter who wins! Our campers learned that respect and sportsmanship are more important than winning and these are lessons that are best learned at summer camp.

Looking ahead, our annual “Fall Festival Family Reunion” will take place at camp on Sunday, October 4. The festivities will begin in the morning with volunteers setting up crafts and fall themed decorations. Camp families and staff members will arrive in the afternoon and will enjoy a variety of fall crafts and treats. We can’t wait to see everybody!

Orange Jaguars Show their Strength!
Orange Jaguars Show their Strength!
Green Pythons got the spirit!
Green Pythons got the spirit!

It is so wonderful to be looking toward our upcoming 2015 camp season, having weathered a long and weary winter!  Everyone is excited and anticipating much fun at Sunrise Day Camp in Pearl River.  Camp cleanup began the weekend of May 17 as staff and volunteers worked to spruce up our grounds.  Pearl River will be an even more special place to be this summer with the addition of a ceramic studio and kiln as well as a large scoreboard for our campers. Many thanks to our donors who make it possible for our campers to enjoy new and creative experiences. Our mission could not be achieved without the generosity of our donors who came out in a March snowstorm to attend our yearly Rock the River concert event at the Capitol Theater, in Portchester, NY.

Our next major fundraising event will be on June 14th with SunriseWalks at Pearl River and across the world. We are currently working to bring out the Westchester and Rockland communities for their support on this upcoming day.

We continue to bring sunshine from Sunrise as the wheels rolled into Hackensack University Medical Center last month for our tenth in-hospital Sunrise on Wheels program! This past year, Sunrise on Wheels was initiated at 3 of our Pearl River affiliated hospitals. Our volunteer teams have kindly donated their time weekly to bring smiles to many children. We are grateful to these dedicated individuals who make Sunrise on Wheels a meaningful and successful endeavor.

Volunteer opportunities to see Sunrise Day Camp in action are coming up over the summer on scheduled volunteer days.   We welcome those who are interested to contact Marianne Bosshart for more information at 914-741-0333.

Our countdown to camp begins; Summer 2015 is only a little more than a month away!


Sunrise Day Camp-Pearl River conducts two camp reunions during the off season to extend the “magic” of camp and to allow for the campers to see each other and various staff members. Sunrise-Pearl River hosted a very successful fall-themed family reunion at our campgrounds on Sunday, October 12 and then an equally successful, camper-only reunion in December.  Over 50 Sunrise campers and 25 staff members attended the second annual “Winter Festival Reunion” on Sunday, December 21 at Sunrise’s off-season offices in Pleasantville, NY.  Campers and staff came in from all over the Metro NY area – from various towns in New Jersey, Orange County, Rockland, the Bronx, Westchester and Manhattan.

The reunion kicked off with lots of hugs, joy, and laughter as campers reunited with each other and with favorite counselors and staff. Everyone enjoyed a pizza lunch, followed by choices of various activities. Campers enjoyed the “Moon Bounce”, sports and games in the gym, winter-themed crafts, snacks, and singing camp songs. As a way to “wind down”, everyone relaxed while watching the movie “Mr. Peabody and Sherman” and snacking on popcorn in the gym.

One highlight of the reunion was the presentation of holiday gifts that were donated by the Carmel Academy of Greenwich, Connecticut. The story behind the gifts is quite heart-warming.  Carmel 3rd grade students participated in a month-long fundraising project. They read books every night and parents donated money based on the amount of time that their child spent reading. The Carmel kindergarteners heard about this 3rd grade project and they decided to add their weekly charity donations to the fund.  The students (after counting the money, which became a math lesson) then purchased age-appropriate toys and gift cards for all of the campers who attended the reunion. Additional funds collected from parents and grandparents supplemented the students’ funds.  Sunrise campers were thrilled with their presents and Carmel families were thrilled that they were able to do good a deed for families in need! Thank you Carmel students, parents and grandparents! And thank you to our Assistant Camp Director, Jeremy Levin, a teacher at Carmel for spearheading this amazing project.


Enthusiastic and dedicated volunteers bring joy and play to the outpatient waiting and infusion sites at area hospitals, creating a camp-like atmosphere filled with FUN!  The Sunrise on Wheels Pearl River program has achieved great success over the past six months and has served more than 300 children this year.

In April 2014, Sunrise Day Camp Pearl River initiated its first Sunrise on Wheels Program at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center.  A few months later in July 2014, the Wheels program rolled into New York- Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital's outpatient setting, and we anticipate that Sunrise on Wheels will be bringing smiles to children at Hackensack University Medical Center in Winter/Spring 2015. We are very excited about our new endeavors in the hospitals and appreciate their wonderful collaboration and reception of this program.

Crafty creations presented weekly have kept participants from ages 1 to 23 years engaged and distracted from the reality of being at the site for necessary and often painful and scary cancer treatments. Some of our most recent favorite projects are classy clipboards, painted pumpkins and terrific turkeys. In addition, children and teens at the program have learned to play new games, master puzzles and interact with one another in a playroom-like atmosphere.  Much fun lies in the donated trunk filled with treasures to keep patients occupied during our sessions. Parents often share in the activities or take the opportunity to meet with a medical professional while their child is busy with the Wheels team. One parent at New York Presbyterian said, "I changed the appointment day I come to the hospital for outpatient treatment with my 19 month old as she loves the projects she gets to make and spending time playing with the Sunrise on Wheels volunteers!" 

The magical weekly activity at Maria Fareri and NYP could not be accomplished without the generosity of our volunteers and donors. Sunrise on Wheels has been welcomed and so well-received at our 9 Sunrise Day Camp hospitals.  We are thrilled to report that when the Wheels roll into Hackensack University Medical Center we will be at #10!!!  Let’s roll on….

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Organization Information

Richard Rosenthal JCC of Northern Westchester

Location: Pleasantville, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Lindsay Weiss
Pleasantville, New York United States
$1,887 raised of $60,000 goal
58 donations
$58,113 to go
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