Happiness Is Camping Offers Child Cancer Patients Normalcy [AUDIO]
For over 30 years, the Northwest Jersey charity has offered the chance for area youngsters to have the same summer camp experience as every other kid their age.
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The program was started by Murray Struver, and is now overseen by his son, Kurt, who serves as Executive Director of Happiness Is Camping. The yearly camp is open to all cancer patients and survivors, as well as their siblings.
"As long as your doctor says you are well enough to come to camp, we are happy to take you."
For 4 weekly sessions each summer, the camp hosts anywhere from 60 to 80 boys and girls, between the ages of 6 and 15. Sometimes attendance for a week even reaches 100 kids. This process takes place each week, while participants are allowed to stay for as many of the weekly sessions as they'd like.
The 140 acre camp, located in the Hardwick/Blairstown area, boasts amenities and activities ranging from fishing, boating, wildlife, swimming, a gym, fields, arts and crafts, and cooking.
"Anything that could possibly go on at a sleep-away camp, we have available for our kids," Struver says.
It's all part of the camp's mantra to make these children suffering through illness to have the opportunity to just have a little normalcy.
"We try to be a camp for kids," he explained, "We try not to dwell or even think about the fact that the kids have cancer when they are at camp."
Struver says that the mission is for each child to leave saying it was the best week of their lives.
"If we can accommodate hundreds of kids with cancer every summer and create that kind of experience for them, we've done our job."
On top of the slew of recreation and activities provided by Happiness Is Camping, it also features a fully equipped health center with an oncologist and two nurses always on duty and the capabilities for chemo treatments. While all of these features and amenities are essential to the charity's success, they do not come cheap.
"It's now about two thousand dollar a week for each child that comes to camp, and so we have to work hard at fundraising."
Happiness Is Camping charges no money to families for the week or more of camping, and relies on a sturdy network of donors and fundraisers held for them to make ends meet.
More Good News
In an effort to reduce the number of animals that are euthanized each year due to over population, Spay NJ is encouraging New Jersey pet owners to get their cats and dogs spayed. The non-profit organization says 38,000 pets are put down each year. Spay NJ has a list of low cost spay services available online. You can also call 1-877-SPAY-NJ1 for more information.
Teal Wings of Hope Foundation
Do you know someone with Ovarian Cancer? On September 1st, The Teal Wings of Hope Foundation will host its Third Annual Ovarian Cancer Feat for Hope 5k Run/Walk to raise funds in support of its efforts to provide help for patients, families, friends and caregivers that are dealing with Ovarian Cancer.
The event will be held at Veterans Park in Hamilton Township. The non-profit organization was founded in 2009, and aims to educate and promote awareness of ovarian cancer, as well as provide support for those touched by the disease. You can learn more about the event and the foundation online.