Camp Happy Times Celebrates 35 Years

Photo Credit: Chanabelle Arriaga
CHT members in a group photo with Digital Getdown.

By: Afrah Momin, Fall Editor & Reporter

For more than 35 years, The Valerie Fund has operated Camp Happy Times.” Camp Happy Times (CHT) is a non-profit organization that welcomes any child from the ages of 5-21 who is in the midst of dealing with cancer, or has already dealt with it.

The camp is located at Tyler Hill in Wayne County, PA. “Camp Happy Times promotes friendship, independence, and a spirit of cooperation for cancer patients and survivors.”  The fact that so many patients and survivors can come together and interact with one another, is really fascinating. I am one of those kids, and  I have been visiting the camp for 3 years now. Every time I go, I always meet someone new. It’s a great environment for kids like us.

I heard about CHT from my doctor during one of my check ups. My first year at camp was in 2012. I was extremely timid and scared to meet new people, but on the bright side, I met my best friend, Sara. She has been my best friend of five years now. Camp has been the place for us to meet up. I hadn’t seen Sara in three years after our first time at camp. Two years ago, I finally got to see her.

Kids like Sara and I are always truly grateful to go to such a place like CHT. You don’t see a lot of camps like this one that put so much dedication and love into providing such a fun environment. The money is provided by The Valerie Fund with the help of donors and fundraisers. I am really happy that The Valerie Fund puts so much time and money into making camp each year a success!

In an interview with Millie Finkel, who is a volunteer director at CHT, said “In 1983, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and a friend asked if I would be a counselor at this camp for kids with cancer.” She was a counselor for a few years, but after realizing someone was getting paid for running the camp, she decided to become a volunteer director.

Ms. Finkel told me how she tells all the kids at camp “I’m not a doctor or nurse and can’t cure the children, but I can give them one hell of a week.” She has been such a great role model for all the kids at camp. She loves the kids so much, it’s almost like her second child. She calls CHT “a special place.”

I really hope to become a Leader In Training (LIT) for CHT because I want to help these kids. All the counselors, LITS, and THC staff let us know that we’ll be okay, and that we’re not alone. Cancer can and will be beat! Camp Happy Times makes kids feel less insecure about themselves. The most important part is for kids to be happy, and have fun. Sometimes I feel like a little kid when coming to camp. It’s a wonderful place, and I’m happy to be going there. CHT is like my second family.