Dinosaurs roamed the earth thousands of years ago and their remains have been uncovered by archeologists, but were they on Shelter Island?
A cursory search doesn’t uncover any sign of their presence here, but dinosaurs will be invading Shelter Island Saturday when 140 campers and 120 staff members arrive at Camp Quinipet.
The visitors will turn a part of the campus into Camp Adventure, where the theme for the week is dinosaurs. The camp has become an annual week-long respite for children with cancer and their siblings, a chance to put a focus on illness aside and concentrate on fun.
In addition to the campers arriving from areas close by, 16 are coming from upstate New York and New Jersey via Patient Airlift Services, a group of pilots who volunteer their time to fly patients to medical appointments and to provide them access to special events. The annual dinner dance that will occur on the evening of Wednesday, August 16, will feature many of the campers arriving in dinosaur costumes, co-director Melissa Firmes-Ray said.
“We expect a lot of Flintstones at the dance,” Ms. Firmes-Ray said.
The logistics of providing not only traditional camp activities and special events along with medical care for those who need it is no small accomplishment, Ms. Firmes-Ray said. It takes a staff of 120 to make it happen and some of the medical personnel will be traveling each day from off-Island, she said, because there isn’t enough housing at Quinipet or in private homes on the Island to accommodate them all.
Islanders have always rallied to assist. Some open their homes to staff members and others provide food and baked goods for the dance. The Shelter Island Emergency Medical Services staff stands by in case of any special needs that could require getting a child to a hospital. Many volunteers join the Shelter Island Fire Department in providing an annual hose down following a shaving cream fight on the grounds and later, a barbecue for campers and staff.
The program was initiated under the American Cancer Society, but when funding tightened up, the organization had to cut the program. Ms. Firmes-Ray and co-director David Lewis along with a host of volunteers went to work to form their own 501(c)3 tax-exempt organization, Kids Need More, to raise money and keep Camp Adventure thriving.
Although the week-long camp is the centerpiece, there are activities throughout the year to support children coping with severe health issues.
At the final event on August 17, there will be a bonfire and memorial ceremony to honor those who have died from cancer.
To support Camp Adventure either through monetary contributions or to find out how you can volunteer service for the various events, call fundraising chair Jackie Lorenz at (917) 302-9265 or go to kidsneedmore.org.