American Camp Association Accreditation

Did you know that we are the only camp specializing in the care of children with cancer in the state of New Jersey to be accredited by the American Camp Association? In fact, we are one of only 22 camps in all of the US that exclusively serve children with cancer and are ACA-Accredited. We think that’s pretty cool!

So, what is ACA-Accreditation and why is it such an accomplishment? According to their website, the mission of the American Camp Association is “enriching the lives of children, youth and adults through the camp experience.” The ACA creates up-to-date, research-based standards for camp operation in collaboration with youth advocacy groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Red Cross. Standards cover a wide variety of topics including Human Resources, Health and Wellness, Operational Management, and Camp Programming. ACA standards go above and beyond state requirements for health, cleanliness, and food preparation and dive deeper into the operation of each camp.

In 2018, Happiness Is Camping had its official ACA visitation, which is required once every three years. We passed with flying colors, giving the parents of our campers peace of mind that we are going above and beyond to care for their children. To learn more about the American Camp Association, visit www.acacamps.org.

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Open-Concept Gingerbread Houses: HIC’s Holiday Party Recap

On Saturday, December 1, Happiness Is Camping hosted its Second Annual Holiday Party. The party was attended by over 50 members of HIC’s community and included campers (both current and past), counselors, volunteers, and Board Members. Santa took time out of his busy schedule to take pictures and hand out gifts, including Game Stop gift cards, board games, action figures, dolls, and even a small drone (looks like Santa forgot the dog we’ve been asking for).

Some party-goers even designed their own gingerbread houses. They say a mess is a sign of genius, and if that’s the case, I’d say we have a few Picasso’s at camp. During the construction, one of our campers accidentally knocked down two walls of his gingerbread house. “Oh well, I guess it’s open-concept now.” We had an unofficial “Ugly Sweater Contest,” and Board President/Camp Nurse Laura won by a landslide. However, she actually looked quite dashing in her Christmas ensemble, so we’ll have to change her award to “Best Dressed” instead. Here is a picture of Laura’s outfit.

Last, we had an unexpected visitor at the Holiday Party…a mama bobcat and her kitten! Santa is escorted by his reindeer. At camp, you’re escorted back to your car by a bobcat. If only we had that dog…

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College Prep Camp

Children with cancer are up to 15 times less likely to attend college than their own siblings. Although we’ve provided our campers with cherished childhood memories for over 37 years, we want to make sure our campers are set up for success in their adult lives. Therefore, we are proud to present College Prep Camp, a new program designed to prepare our campers for college and beyond.

College Prep Camp will take place during Session 1 of Summer Camp, July 7-11. The program will feature guest speakers and camp alumni covering a range of topics surrounding the college admission process. Participants will speak to college counselors, directors, and students. They will explore potential majors, search for colleges that fit their preferences, learn about financial aid, and will even fill out the Common Application, which is used by more than 750 colleges nationwide. 

We are extremely excited to offer this new program. Registration for College Prep Camp will open soon. If you or anyone you know is involved in college admissions and would like to help out, please contact Ryan Campbell at ryan@happinessiscamping.org.

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Counselor and Mentorship Program

Researchers at The University of Illinois conducted a study in 2017 regarding the effects of pediatric cancer on adult survivors. They found that adult survivors of pediatric cancer are five times less likely to get a job than their peers without cancer, and up to FIFTEEN TIMES less likely to go to college than their own siblings. We believe our responsibility for our campers continues long after they age out, so we developed the Counselor and Mentorship Program (CAMP).

CAMP features three components designed to decrease the effects of pediatric cancer on our campers as they enter the “real world.” The first component uses hands-on STEM education to generate interest in these subjects, inspiring our CAMPers to major in them in college. The second component teaches CAMPers basic life skills, including cooking, first aid, applying to college, doing laundry, and changing a tire. The third component gives our CAMPers real working experience, as they assist counselors in younger cabins each night and learn the various duties of being a counselor.

After a highly successful inaugural year, we are making some exciting changes in 2019. CAMPers will now attend for a three week program (as opposed to the two week program offered in 2018). This gives us even more time to introduce them to fantastic guest speakers, and also gives them more working experience in the cabins. We hope to welcome new speakers this year, including former camper Jay Riley, Director of Alumni at the University of South Florida-Sarasota. Jay will teach our CAMPers about the college application process and will even introduce them to current students, advisers, and professors!

CAMP is open to all 16 year old children with cancer, as well as 16 year old siblings. Our first year was a huge success and featured a great group of CAMPers, and we can’t wait to continue to build this program.

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Meet our First Counselor from Germany: Lars!

Camp has always been home to staff members from all over the world. Over our history, we’ve had staff from England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Poland, Mexico, South Africa, Ukraine, and many other countries. HIC maintains a partnership with Camp America, an organization designed to match international students with roles in American camps.

This year, we were privileged to host our first counselor from Germany: Lars! Lars joined the HIC family from Munchweiler, a small village near the border of France. His background in engineering immediately stood out to us. Lars has even won awards for designing and 3D printing model cars! With the inauguration of our Counselor and Mentorship Program (which features a STEM component) we were excited to add him to our staff.

Lars became an instant sensation with both the kids and his fellow counselors. As a counselor of the Cheyenne, our oldest boys, he was often surrounded by campers copying his accent and asking him questions about Germany. The high point of Lars’ summer came when he was awarded “Actor of the Year” for his role as the villain in the Cheyenne’s Hollywood Premier film. When asked about his HIC experience, Lars said, “It was a great experience. I learned a lot about the American culture and the work with the kids was really fun.”

The fact that our campers were able to get a glimpse of the German culture through Lars’ presence was invaluable. Do you also want an authentic German experience? Join us at our Oktoberfest at the Black Forest Inn on Tuesday, September 25 at 6:00pm. Enjoy a German buffet, listen to live music, and bid on small tricky tray items, including Walt Disney World theme park tickets! For tickets to our Oktoberfest, visit https://www.happinessiscamping.org/oktoberfest-registration/

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2019 Camp Dates: Time to Start the Countdown

It has been 34 days since Summer Camp has ended. For most of the campers, that’s way too long since the last time they saw their friends. For some of our parents, that’s way too much time that their kids have spent at home (thank goodness for school starting). For Rich and Ryan, that’s WAY too much time being cooped up in the office together.

Well today, we officially turn our full attention to the 2019 season. Today, the countdown to Summer 2019 begins! The dates are as follows:

  • Session 1: July 7-11
  • Session 2: July 14-18
  • Session 3: July 21-25
  • Session 4: July 28-August 1
  • Session 5: August 4-9

As you may notice, these are the same weeks as Summer Camp 2018. There is one small change; Session 5 (and ONLY Session 5) will end on FRIDAY, August 9. This gives us one extra night to celebrate and host Prom! Registrations will begin soon on CampDoc, and we will let you know as soon as they open! So…ONLY 297 DAYS UNTIL CAMP!!!

Tune in next week when we reveal our theme. It’s going to be magical!

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Second Annual Santa Fights Cancer Splash & Dash 5K

Our Second Annual Santa Fights Cancer Splash & Dash 5K was a great success! 136 runners registered to race and 92 people braved the elements to run in the torrential rain. Our overall winner was Gary Leaman with a time of 18:38.3. First place on the Women’s side was Laura Straub with a time of 21:08.4. Laura is also running the 2018 TCS NYC Marathon on behalf of HIC this November. To donate to her cause, please visit her Crowdrise page at https://www.crowdrise.com/laurastraub1. Congratulations to all of our runners and thank you so much to everyone that donated and attended!

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50/50 Raffle Winner!

Happiness Is Camping would like to congratulate a local Blairstown resident for winning our First Annual 50/50 Raffle! A total of 267 tickets were sold, meaning the winner took home $13,350. Thank you to everyone that purchased a ticket. HIC received a total of $13,350 from the fundraiser, enough to sponsor 6 kids for a free week of camp. Thank you all for your participation!!!

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Online Registration for the 2018 Dash and Splash is Now Open!

Online registration for the 2018 Happiness Is Camping 5K Dash and Splash – Santa Fights Cancer is now open! Want to run but you aren’t free on August 11th? We’ve added a Virtual Runner category this year. Register as a virtual runner, run from whatever location you choose and we will mail you a race shirt. You say you do not run unless a zombie is chasing you? We’ve also added a Couch Potato category that is perfect for you. Register as a couch potato runner and support Happiness Is Camping while happily doing no form of exercise at all on race day. We have something for everyone so please register today and help put a smile on the face of a child with cancer!
 
The registration link is:
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