Celebrating 100 years of Sunset Point Camp

It must have been quite a sight on the day more than 100 years ago, when the barge carrying the building that had once served as a VA Hospital on Bumpkin Island sailed its way through Boston Harbor to Hull's Sunset Point, to be repurposed as a summer camp for children. Thanks to the generosity of James J. Phelan who purchased the acre of land the camp sits on, and the Massachusetts State Council of the Knights of Columbus, who donated and transported the building, generations of children have benefited from a summer-time stay at the beach.

Originally named Catholic Charities' Children's Vacation House, and now known as Catholic Charities' Sunset Point Camp, the camp looks a bit different today than it did a century ago, as bunk houses and a gym were added over time. And, thanks to a generous donation from the Flatley Foundation, all of the buildings underwent major renovations during the winter of 2013-2014. In addition to other fixes, ramps, lifts, automatic doors, and special bathrooms and showers were added to make the entire facility handicapped-accessible.

This summer more than 400 boys and girls, aged 6-13 from the Greater Boston area whose families are struggling to make ends meet will enjoy a one-week overnight Sunset Point Camp experience. These children -- chosen without regard to their race, nationality, or religious affiliation -- have the opportunity to enjoy the fresh air, learn new talents, receive academic summer support and simply have fun together.

Sunset Point campers are supervised and coached by camp and program directors, kitchen staff, life guards, and nurses as they enjoy swimming, kayaking, paddle boats, sailing, arts and crafts, drama and other recreational activities. In addition, they are involved in a variety of programs designed around life-building skills promoting teamwork, sportsmanship, and good health, while cultivating a sense of leadership, self-discipline and self-esteem. In recent years, we have also been able to offer a unique "Buddy Week" camp experience for children whose special needs require a more hands-on camp experience. Children with autism join a select group of our campers for a week of all the same activities we do all summer. As we say, the only difference between these two groups is opportunity, and we make sure they are given the same opportunities as any child that walks through our doors.

We plan to celebrate our 100th birthday all summer long -- and would love to hear from you -- especially if you have a connection to Children's Vacation House/Sunset Point Camp as a former camper, camp counselor or supporter. We'd love to hear your stories about your camp experience, and would be happy to have you make a plan to visit us this summer.

We have been graced by support from many over the years, but the Proparvulis Club, Guild of the Infant Savior, and Friends of Sunset Point Camp have been amazingly generous with both their time and talent. Parishioners from St. Mary's of Scituate have sponsored "Treasure Night" for decades, parishes in Hull and Hingham support the camp in ways both big and small and the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement have long been a presence at the camp. And if you knew Msgr. Eugene McNamara, chances are good that you responded more than once to a request to do something special for our children! We count Don Rodman and the late Marshall Sloane in that very generous group.

We would be overjoyed if you join us for our summer fundraiser on Saturday evening, June 22, 2019, led by the amazing Friends of Sunset Point Camp. You can learn more about our 100th celebration by visiting our website -- www.ccab.org/SunsetPointCentennial. Tickets to the event can be purchased online, or by calling Ivana Veiga at 508-587-0815.

Thank you for all that you do to help us carry out our mission of building a just and compassionate society rooted in the dignity of all people.

- Deborah Kincade Rambo is president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston.