Long Island Camp Helps Kids Play Catch-Up In STEM Classes While Fighting Cancer

WYANDANCH, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Summer is usually when kids unplug, but at one very special camp on Long Island kids are being encouraged to do just the opposite.

As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff explained, they’re playing computer catch-up while battling cancer.

At any summer camp the athletic fields are the biggest draw, and most kids steer clear of the indoors.

But Sunrise Day Camp is not just any camp. It’s host to 600 kids with cancer and their siblings who are growing up too fast, missing out on simple childhood pleasures, and all important learning.

“I was in the hospital, but at the same time when I was sick at home I was in a lot of pain so I really couldn’t go to school,” Lane Romano said.

Romano is 10-years-old, and missed an entire school year to battle cancer, causing him to fall behind in math and science.

Last summer he shared his wish with a 17-year-old counselor.

“I wish we had a coding program,” he said.

Now, the program is up and running, and the kids are loving it.

Self-proclaimed computer geek Max Miller got the ball rolling and now, the so-called ‘steam shack’ has 30 corporate sponsors and a cache of high-tech toys, robots, 3D printers, and a new building with donated broadband WiFi is on the way.

“It’s science, technology, engineering, art, and math,” Deanna Slade said.

Most camps offer a break in tech overload, but Sunrise leaders know their kids need to play catch up.

“Nearly 80 percent of kids with cancer are cured, but 100 percent of them fall behind in school. They are in treatment, in isolation, they can’t be around other kids, so they spend a lot of time in the hospital,” Sunrise Association Board Member David Miller said.

Nestled next to music, and arts and crafts, the steam shack is the big draw.

“When you look in there you don’t see sick kids, you just see kids having a good time,” Miller said.

With camp coming to an end, the Steam Shack is hitting the road visiting 15 hospitals with an online component so kids who are sidelined in school never stop learning.

The seven Sunrise Day Camps around the world are completely free to campers.

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