SUNDOWN from Liza Mandelup on Vimeo.

As part of our Atlas Obscura Goes to Summer Camp special package, we’re revisiting stories that have captured the summer camp vibe or explored some of its more unique subcultures.

Summer camp is a great American tradition. And one completely out of reach for the so-called “children of the night”—the name given to kids who are allergic to the sun.

This rare condition, xeroderma pigmentosum, makes summer camp, or any daytime outdoors activity, painful and even fatally dangerous. Luckily, there is a place that seeks to reclaim the tradition for children afflicted with XP: Camp Sundown, which opened in 1995.

Directed by Liza Mandelup, this video takes us into the world of Camp Sundown, where the hours are inverted and everyone comes out as soon as the sun is down. Located in Craryville, New York, it allows children to form a family with others who understand their condition. They swim, play around, watch movies, and roast marshmallows, all under the cover of the night.

Some of the camp counselors, themselves veterans of life with XP, give us an insight on what life is like for attendees. The message, it seems, is that while life is not easy, there’s always a ray of moonlight to be found.

This story originally ran in 2016; it has been updated for 2024.