August 27, 2014 at 12:30 PM
BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Bridgewater resident Emily Woznick recently completed her last year as a leader-in-training at Camp Happy Times, a one-week overnight camp for children who have or have had cancer.
Woznick, a 21-year-old rising senior at Wheelock College, was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma when she was 8 months old, and has been attending Camp Happy Times since she was 9 years old.
The camp is run by The Valerie Fund, a nonprofit organization that provides comprehensive health care for children with cancer and blood disorders. Almost 200 children attend each year, from ages 5 to 21, and it allows children who have dealt with life-threatening illness to connect with others with similar experiences.
“They make you feel so special,” Woznick said in a release about the program. “Nobody cares if you have an IV pole, or you have an ostomy.”
Woznick said in the release that deep connections form at the camp, particularly among people who accept and understand what they are all going through.
“I think everybody needs that, and that’s why I want so many people to come to camp,” she said.
Woznick will be a counselor soon at the camp, and hopes to one day go into child services, possibly as a child advocate.
The camp has been running for 32 years, and, for the past 20 years has been under the direction of volunteer director Millie Finkel. Camp is free of charge to patients and their families, and everything is either donated or sponsored.
In addition, the release said, camp provides medical care for patients, with a full medical staff including nurses, pediatric oncologists, residents and counselors with medical backgrounds.
For more information about Camp Happy Times, email Finkel at CampHappyTimes@TheValerieFund.org.