New York campground owners raise $750,000 for kids with cancer

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When top officials with Campground Owners of New York decided they wanted to select a special nonprofit organization they could rally New York campgrounds to support, Camp Good Days was a natural fit.

Craig Winter of Rochester, one of the many children who regularly attend Camp Good Days.

Camp Good Days organizes special events as well as weeklong cancer camps at the organization’s campground at Keuka Lake in Branchport. Activities include sporting events, concerts, fishing and laser tag – all of which provide unique opportunities for children with cancer to enjoy fun activities as they develop friendships with other children who suffer from the life-threatening disease.

Special camps are also available for siblings of children with cancer as well as adults with specific conditions, such as women’s oncology camps and prostate cancer camps for men.

“We all operate campgrounds, but Camp Good Days offers extraordinary activities and experiences they are uniquely qualified to provide,” said Matt Anderson, a co-owner and operator of Camp Chautauqua in Stow, who regularly volunteers at Camp Good Days, helping with maintenance and other tasks. Anderson said he will always remember the emotions the first time he witnessed a Camp Good Days cancer camp in session. “It’s just breathtaking,” he said. “It will make you cry. It’s that moving. It’s just a great thing.”

Anderson himself is so supportive of Camp Good Days’ mission that he volunteers on their board of directors in addition to serving on the board of Campground Owners of New York. While his own son, Noah, does not suffer from cancer, he was diagnosed with Kawasaki disease at age 4, which required his son to be hospitalized and to undergo costly treatments, all of which helped Anderson to develop a special empathy for parents of children with cancer.

Since they started supporting Camp Good Days in 2012, campgrounds affiliated with Campground Owners of New York have raised more than $750,000.

Many other private campground owners across New York have similar compassion for children who suffer from cancer and their families, which has led them to organize annual fundraising events to support Camp Good Days.

Since they started supporting Camp Good Days in 2012, campgrounds affiliated with Campground Owners of New York have raised more than $750,000 to support the Mendon-based nonprofit organization, which provides all of its programs free of charge.

Brother and sister, Craig Winter and Lily

“We don’t have a cure,” said James R. McCauley, Jr., Camp Good Days’ director of community initiatives. “But we have a lot of caring for these individuals.”

Anderson, for his part, said there are natural synergies between Camp Good Days and privately owned campgrounds that support its efforts. “We are campgrounds that are giving back, and Camp Good Days is an organization we wholeheartedly support,” he said.

While the pandemic continues, New York campground operators are already scheduling special fundraising activities this spring and summer to support Camp Good Days’ many cancer camps. These include:

• Camp Chautauqua in Stow: This park’s fundraising activities for Camp Good Days includes an auction that will take place the weekend of Aug. 20-22.

Conesus Lake Campground and Conesus Lake RV Park in Conesus: These parks organize a wine raffle each week with all proceeds benefiting Camp Good Days. Other fundraising activities include pancake breakfasts, ice cream socials and a chicken barbecue. The parks also have an annual auction on the last Saturday of August, with all proceeds benefiting Camp Good Days.

Lake Bluff Campground in Wolcott: This park is planning a Camp Good Days raffle, a fundraising luncheon and a special on camping the weekend of May 21-23 as part of its fundraising efforts this year.

• Pine Ridge Park Campsite in Constable: This campground organizes events throughout the summer to raise money for Camp Good Days, including a mini Olympics over July 4th weekend. “I compose events of humor, strategy, athleticism, and entertainment for a day of fun,” said park owner Kristal Fletcher. “The cost of entry for the teams is all donated to Camp Good Days as well as 50/50 during that event and a dunk tank where you get to choose the employee that sits in hopes of getting them soaked.”

Sleepy Hollow Lake Campground in Akron: This park is planning a special barbecue dinner from 11 a.m to 6 p.m. July 31 to raise money for Camp Good Days. The park also recruits teenagers at the park to help put on a golf cart wash with proceeds benefiting Camp Good Days.

• Spruce Row Campground & RV Park in Ithaca: This park plans fundraising activities the weekend of July 9-11, including a raffle, live music by the band Tailor Made, and a golf tournament at the Trumansburg Golf Club with proceeds going to Camp Good Days.

The Ridge Campground in Mount Morris: This campground has fundraising activities for Camp Good Days on the first weekend of August every year, with this year’s events being scheduled for Aug. 6-8. Activities include live music, raffles, a camp breakfast, a kids auction, a cake and pie auction, a silent auction, a bike and car show and other activities.

Consumers who would like to support Camp Good Days can make donations directly to the organization through its website at CampGoodDays.org or contact campgrounds listed on CampNewYork.com to see what activities and special events they have planned to support Camp Good Days this year.

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