Camp Sunshine receives donation of more than $1M


CASCO — A decade-old partnership with a national smoothie chain is paying off for Camp Sunshine in Casco. 

The camp on Sebago Lake offers retreats to children – and their families – who are battling life-threatening conditions. Founded in 1984, the camp has enjoyed a charitable partnership with Atlanta-based Tropical Smoothie Cafe for more than 10 years. 

“This year, they out-did themselves by raising over $1 million,” said Camp Sunshine Executive Director Michael Katz. 

Tropical Smoothie Cafe representatives, including CEO Charles Watson, were at the camp Aug. 6 to present the $1,011,000 check raised this year at company franchises across the country. 

According to a press release from Camp Sunshine, the donation is the largest single donation in camp history, and Tropical Smoothie Cafe has now raised more than $6 million for the camp over the last 11 years. 

Watson, who was named interim CEO in June, said the partnership with Camp Sunshine has “really become part of the fiber of Tropical Smoothie Cafe” and added that it has “gotten better and better every year.”

Katz said the partnership started with a phone call back in 2007.

“They happened to do a little research,” Katz said of Tropical Smoothie leaders, adding that they were “impressed with our family-focused mission.” 

“We were looking for a charity partner that kind of fit with the brand,” Watson explained. “It’s really evolved into bigger dollars as our brand has grown.”

The company has over 600 stores nationally, with two in Maine in South Portland and Biddeford. 

Individual franchises sometimes partner with other local charities, but Camp Sunshine is the company’s sole national charitable partner, Watson said.

Katz said the support, which includes Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s National Flip-Flop Day promotion, “allows more and more families to come to camp” by covering the entire costs of camp sessions and supporting travel costs.  

All Camp Sunshine sessions are free of charge to the families. 

Katz and Watson said Tropical Smoothie Cafe’s national profile has helped raise awareness for Camp Sunshine across the country. 

“They’ve helped create quite a bit of awareness,” Katz said. 

Camp and company leaders also celebrated the reveal of a new Tropical Smoothie Cafe Sports Center at Camp Sunshine this week. The facility will provide a host of recreation opportunities for families participating in camp sessions.

Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.

Camp Sunshine in Casco received its largest donation ever from longtime charitable partner Tropical Smoothie Cafe.