A week in Sunshine House is for me a ‘stop the world I want to get off experience’. No social media, Facebook, Snapchat, mobile phones, etc. Just pure, clean, energetic, fun, fun, fun, and that’s for children and volunteers alike.
I have experienced some wonderful holidays in my life but my weeks in Sunshine are up there with the best of them. And as the saying goes ‘if it’s not broken don’t fix it’ and the proof of that is that the holidays in Sunshine have been catering for children for the last eighty-odd years.
It’s a wonderful week packed with activity. The children arrive on Saturday, full of laughter and excitement. The experienced ones drop their bags and run immediately to swings, monkey bars, slides, etc. The first-timers a bit more reticent, maybe needing a bit more encouragement.
Generally, the competition starts immediately on the monkey bars, especially with the boys and in no time their poor hands are red and sore. But there’s no stopping them. Budding Ronaldo’s are red-faced and sweating already testing their football skills. New volunteers and experienced ones are pushing swings helping others on the various apparatus.
Then the excitement as they are called, to get their dormitories allocated. And the effort other volunteers have to get their attention and get them all together with their cases. The anxiety of some of the children, will I be with my friend, cousin, sister, brother. But this is a week devoted to the wellbeing, comfort, joy and happiness of the children.
And every effort is made to that end. We, the volunteers, are there solely to play alongside the children. Just like older brothers and sisters. It’s the one place where we can be kids again too, taking part in all the activities.
Beach competitions, swimming and football every morning. And the children always know what the sand competition is on because it is the same category every day every year. And of course, the volunteers get stuck in with the children, and it always amuses me how competitive we all become. Then at night, the excitement when the prizes for all the different competitions of that day are presented. And what I love is every child on that week wins a price for something. As well as carrying home a bigger prize at the end of the week.
One year I was the manager of a football team, now what I know about football would fit on the head of a pin. Obviously, they were stuck for a manager. But you can imagine my delight when I met this young lad in town one day he calls my name I’m looking at him. He’s a bit familiar. ‘Do you remember me?’ he says, a big smile on his face. ‘You were the manager of our team’. Then I did remember him. ‘Yes, I said, laughing. ‘I wouldn’t mind, but I knew nothing about football’ I said, ‘I know’ he says. ‘But you were brilliant at the cheering and the Ole, Ole, Oles.’ ‘We won, do you remember?’. I did, will I never forget.
I could go on, but I will finish by saying a week in Sunshine is a week where I will come home enriched and rewarded by the experience, the fantastic children and volunteers.