Dream Day on Cape Cod
A special camp nestled in Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod
Dream Day on Cape Cod serves families that have children with life-threatening illnesses and or serious conditions by “bringing a ray of sunshine” into their lives. The primary way we serve families is through our family camp, Camp Nan-Ke-Rafe, located in Brewster, Massachusetts. Each summer we operate eight sessions of family camp – bringing families together for a week of fun, family, and respite. Our hope is that families have the chance to create loving, lasting memories that transcend illness and struggle.
Dream Day on Cape Cod helps these children face life-threatening illnesses by giving them respite from the world of hospitals and treatments, where they enjoy the peace and tranquility of nature, the camaraderie of family and new friends, and the joy of being a child. And Dream Day seeks to support the family unit and give them the chance to create loving lasting family memories and enhance the child’s overall quality of life. All of our programs are at no cost to the family.
We also host off-season family events, including an annual holiday weekend in December.
Our goal is truly to support the family unit and give them the chance to create loving lasting family memories and enhance the child’s overall quality of life.
Our programs are designed to promote the emotional well-being of the family unit through respite and interaction; decrease isolation through the building of social networks; and to provide a safe physical, emotional and social environment in which families can thrive and share moments that transcend pain and struggle;
Each family will have their own small, modest cabin – cabins have electricity and also a small fridge. Bathrooms are located in a separate building. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are served daily – along with plenty of fresh and tasty snacks. The campground includes a dining hall, screened-in porch, and fully equipped kitchen. The camp also has a centralized bathhouse with showers, including a handicap bathroom and six showers. We have an office building that staffs a full-time Director, 8 family cabins with bathrooms, 4 staff cabins, and a first aid station.
The campground is adjacent to Rafe Pond, which is the setting for many of our waterfront activities. We boast our own archery range, low ropes course, outdoor theater, large multi-sport field, and accessible playground. Our talented camp staff will put together a simple programming schedule – again, emphasizing the laid back spirit of Dream Day – you can expect arts/crafts a couple times during the week, trips to the Park’s pond daily for swimming and canoeing, exploring the waterfront to meet our turtle friends, a nightly campfire, a trip to Barnstable for a whale watch, and a trip to the beach one day. We’ll have plenty of games around camp for all to play – from board games to hide and seek. We have an all access playground on the premises too, that younger children and families will enjoy.
Dream Day’s Cape & Islands Week is a day-camp version of our family camp. It has occurred each summer since 2011. We are happy to host many special local groups including but not limited to several local public schools, Cape Cod Challenger Club, Kennedy-Donovan Centers, Latham School, Cape Cod Collaborative, and DY Sped PAC.
Nan-Ke-Rafe Property Rental
Peace, solitude, and nature’s respite make for a perfect retreat.
There is a rustic sense about the camp – a simplicity that beckons quiet contentment and the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends.
As Cape Cod land owners, we are committed to preserving our property and support Cape Cod sustainability. We are working hard to be GREEN in program and practice. We believe it our responsibility to show respect and value for the beautiful resources we use and occupy.
Some of the ways we are greening our practice include:
- Educating Dream Day families and asking for their partnership in keeping lights off in occupied rooms, reusing bottles, and not littering.
- Nature/Wildlife programs are an important element of our core family camp program.
- On an administrative level, we are minimizing paper use and doing as much electronically as possible.
- We are shifting away from paper plates/plastic utensils in dining service toward glass plates and metal utensils.
- NEW for 2017: We are piloting a garden project! Stay tuned for GREEN developments.
Staff & Board of Directors
Established in 1993, Founder Margaret Kennedy created the organization in tribute to her friend Tim Falvey. Falvey, struggling with cancer himself, originally founded “Dream Day on the Sound” in Connecticut and before he died in May 1993 he had hoped there would be other Dream Days.
Kennedy carried that hope forward. Drawing on the support of friends, colleagues, and dedicated volunteers, Kennedy made that hope a reality. Over two decades later, Dream Day on Cape Cod has served hundreds of seriously ill children and their families.
Dream Day’s early days were at the Riverview School in Sandwich, Massachusetts.
In 1999 an opportunity opened up for us to lease a camp property in Brewster – on the site of an old campfire girls’ camp. Converting the property to meet the needs of Dream Day families was a challenge and accomplishment met with tremendous support. We built our 9 new cabins at the camp in a one day event dubbed the “Contractor Challenge”. More than 150 people worked to do an old-fashioned barn-raising – with cabins rising out of the woods by day’s end.
In 2008, our 10-year lease was up and we had the opportunity to purchase the land and at last call our special camp our own. Our landlord – the Cape Cod Camp Corporation made a partial donation and an anonymous donor came forward with the remaining purchase price. Owning the 17-plus acres of land will now open up doors of opportunity. Organization officials are meeting with master planners and drafting the physical map, helping realize all of the goals within strategic plan. Plans are presently being laid for a capital campaign. Needless to say, we are thrilled.
Tracey O’Connell Sperry is the new executive director as of August 8th, 2016. Tracey brings more than three decades of nonprofit management experience to the organization, most recently as National Director of Development and Research for the Scleroderma Foundation, a role she held since 2008.
“On behalf of the Board of Directors of Dream Day on Cape Cod, I am delighted to welcome Tracey as the new executive director,” said Board Chair Joseph Jasie. “We are thrilled to have her join our team and we look forward having her apply her previous knowledge, experience and expertise to assist our operation to grow and expand. She brings an ability to connect with children and families, the community, and an unwavering commitment to and belief in our mission.
“It’s an honor to join the Dream Day family—the work of this organization is both admirable and important,” Sperry said. “I am thrilled with the opportunity to work alongside countless dedicated and passionate volunteers and staff committed to providing families with children who face life-threatening illnesses and or serious conditions a chance for respite and to create loving, lasting memories that transcend the daily struggles they face.”
Tracey is a graduate of Tufts University and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She has led many workshops on nonprofit management, fund development, communications and marketing strategies and is an award-winning artist and potter.
Kenzie has been involved with camping since 2000 and is extremely excited to be running camp with husband, Dave. She has held a multitude of roles at camps in Maine and New York, from teaching environmental education and running waterfronts, to coordinating group & family programs. Here at Dream Day, Kenzie pays the bills, processes donations, and keeps everyone on track with her stellar organization! She is also our resident American Red Cross Instructor.
Kenzie lives at camp with husband, Dave and children Stella & Wyatt.
- Joseph Jasie, President
- Donald Siddell, Vice-President
- Emily Horne, Treasurer
- Paige Churchill
- Dianne Gilrein, Chair Family Relations Committee
- Jack Girvan
- Paul Hines
- Dale Ormon, Chair Facilities Committee
- Dan Kennedy
- Margaret Kennedy, Founder