The Happy Camper Foundation, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, extends summer program opportunities to South Florida children who, without the Foundation's assistance, would otherwise not have the means to enjoy. The Happy Camper Foundation began with three enthusiastic moms and is now a network of over twenty busy parents who want to see kids in the community get the enrichment they deserve.
Each volunteer is inspired by the other volunteers and financial donors. Together, they motivate each other to keep this organization busy fulfilling its mission. Board member Suzee Edwards says, “In a time when the dollar is being stretched for everyone, where everyone knows someone who is going through an economic crisis, it is amazing to see that people are still giving their time and money to help someone else in need.”
The founders and volunteers of Happy Camper are overwhelmed with their drive to send more and more kids to camp. “Once you meet one child who has benefited from this, you are determined to see as many kids as possible have the same happiness,” says Board Member Tracie Krieger. Board member Karen Cohen says, “Too many talented and passionate children miss the opportunity to explore and grow at summer camp. And nowadays it has become not only a privilege to participate, but many children gain an advantage from merely having the financial means to attend summer programs.”
In 2009, the first Happy Camper summer, 16 deserving local children went to summer camps on Happy Camper scholarships! After reading their letters and learning of their amazing experiences as scholarship recipients, we knew we had to work even harder to make sure our efforts continue to impact as many children as possible. So in 2010, with a goal to double our effort and reach 32 children, our hard work paid off and we were able to grant 47 full scholarships to area youth. Because of the success of Ghouls Gone Wild 2 in 2010, The Happy Camper Foundation was able to award 65 camp scholarships in 2011!
Maria Weber has been a key volunteer with Happy Camper for more than a year, serving on the Ghouls Gone Wild 3 Committee and Chairing the recent success, "Shades of Style" at Saks Fifth Avenue. In Maria's words:
"Whether you’re a camper or a volunteer, it’s hard not to fall in love with – and want to be a part of – the Happy Camper Foundation. After spending just a short time with the founders and the other volunteers, I got totally hooked on the enthusiasm, dedication, and happiness they bring to the participating children and their parents.
HCF spends endless hours raising money and organizing exciting events to pay for the selected-children’s camp tuition. All proceeds go directly for camp programs, but there are many more children than dollars. The Foundation needs all the help it can get. Personally, I find it much more rewarding to contribute time and money to the kind of organization where you can actually have a visible impact on the lives of individuals, particularly children. Contributing to the typical charities doesn’t enable you to experience the value of your relatively small contribution to their total budget. It’s the total opposite with Happy Campers!
At Carousel Day, I got to meet and listen to campers and their parents share stories about their summer camp experiences. I don’t know who was more excited and thankful, the kids or their parents...or me, for being able to help expand these kids’ horizons. When a seven-year old, with no front teeth, tells you how much she loved learning to play the violin this summer, you know you have helped to enrich her life. And it truly makes you smile."
“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”----Benjamin Franklin
Local volunteer Renee West wrote about how working with The Happy Camper Foundation this summer left her feeling. Here are her thoughts:
"We get so busy with the things happening in our lives that we do not realize the hardships out there, and that children are being affected.
This summer I had the opportunity to work with The Happy Camper Foundation, and what an experience it was! I didn't expect to see the beautiful reactions of the children, and the happiness in their eyes.
I had the chance to visit and chat with a few campers about their experience at the camp of their choice. The children, barely into their teens, had such a humble reaction to me, that it left my heart unexpectedly uplifted and overwhelmed with joy that the Happy Camper Foundation exists!
The opportunities these children have had this summer has truly added incredible value to their lives; whether it carved a hazy road to the future they will ultimately lead, or merely taught the value of friendship, leadership, and responsibility. My hope is to see more children involved in these remarkable summer camps, so that our children will grow up to be ready and have the drive to make a change in our world.
"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." ~Frederick Douglass~
I believe The Happy Camper Foundation is creating the path to build strong children. Thank you for the opportunity to help, and see that dreams can be made a reality!"