Amanda Schumacher, program participant, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, Lockport:
I love camp because all the activities in the camp like the sleepover, the climbing wall, kickball, singing dancing, swimming and camp fire.
Program participant, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, Recreation:
I had a wonderful time at Camp Happiness and wish the camp could be open twice a year instead of once. Even an overnight during a weekend would be great. After a day at camp my family says that I am all smiles and excited about the next day.
Claire G, program participant, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, Lockport:
Camping for 3 years! I like to make the handprint banner, and arts & crafts. I liked to look at the horses but not go for a ride in the rain. All the staff are nice. Bingo was really fun! Love the salad bar. I want the accordion player to ply ‘O Suzanna’.
Joseph Sullivan, program participant, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, Lockport:
Swimming was so cool. I had fun.
Lisa Tribunella, program participant, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, Lockport:
Camp Happiness was great even in the rain. They made it fun. The camp fire was fun, the sleep over was nice, and the food was good. All the activities they had were great. The counselors were funny. I hope to come back next year.
Program participant, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, Lockport:
3 years in a row and I love camp! My favorites are the boats and bingo. I liked the accordion player and dances.
Darin H, program participant, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, Lockport:
I have come to camp for 3 years. I love everything especially the overnight camping. At the campfire we ate s’mores and sang songs. During the day I like to swim, play basketball and go on the horse/carriage ride. I really want camp to stay open for a long time because it is so much fun. And the food is good too! The volunteers are really nice, and next year I want to invite my girlfriend!
Gary Girard, program participant, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara, Lockport:
Had a great night – we slept over. I loved swimming. Still want to go on the boats. I did karaoke and basketball. Got all the way up on the rock wall. The people there are really nice and I have a lot of friends here. Right now I am going to go on the horse ride and have some more fun!
John Zieziula, Project Coordinator, Elks Lodge #41 Lockport:
Just being at Camp Happiness, watching the events unfold with the Campers, is a sight to behold… the smiles generated, beyond any doubt, tell a story of the campers wanting to have the special fun that they do not normally take part in. I am sure by their enthusiasm, that they look forward to Camp Happiness and the wall climbing, horse rides, swimming, canoe rides, dancing, crafts and many other fun events…and the fantastic food …the lunches that are served are always a hit. Being there and being a part of Camp Happiness is what drives me to keep this alive …all for our wonderful campers.
Donna McMichael, Elk’s Volunteer:
I was filled with wonderment watching the first few buses arrive and seeing the anxious and happy faces of former campers along with the amazement on the faces of the new campers.
Watching the first few buses arrive and seeing the anxious and happy faces of former campers and amazement on new camper’s wonderment. Having campers remember us from last year is just amazing to me. I look forward to this week just as much as they do and love all the new friends and workers I meet.
The change in Jennifer from always standoffish and always sticking out her tongue at you, warming up, smiling and even hugging – happy and dancing.
Tara – a very sweet girl – coming out of her shell and talking to me with answers after days of staring.
Campers in the paddle boats were having a completely fun ride and less fear than the canoes – thanks to Luke for all the new things and grants he received for camp.
The singing accordion player at lunch was great. I saw Clare and Ruth and many more singing tunes from their younger years with such joy and remembrance – awesome!
The crafts were a great hit with such creativity. Cheryl – making a basket at basketball was top notch – what excitement for her and us!
Bryce McMichael, Elk’s Volunteer:
One day on the paddle boats there was a young girl who was told by a young man in the group that he was going to paddle faster than her. She was bound and determined that was not going to happen. She paddled full tilt and we were much faster than his boat. She had a big smile on her face the whole time and did not want to stop, even though another group had arrived. I loved her enthusiasm and my legs were worn out after that paddle boat ride.
Mark Albiez, Executive Director, Lockport YMCA & Camp Kenan:
Our Mission: To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy Spirit, Mind and Body for all! For all people is our destination and we strive every day to work toward that end.
Working together to improve the quality of life for all people…our collaboration with the Elks #41 and Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara has brought joy, physical accomplishments and a sense of renewed purpose to our staff.
We do this by helping the campers with developmental disabilities: develop a sense of belonging; learn from caring adult role models; honor the values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility, and improve their essential life skills.
We have seen more smiles…more joy…more success stories, which in turn have created memories for all…that will last a lifetime! Happiness shines brightly upon all who attend Camp!
Mike Shurmatz, Program Director, Camp Kenan/Lockport YMCA staff:
On Thursday afternoon our staff set up a sound system and speaker with microphone on our outdoor basketball court. We had a dance and singing for the participants. After playing only one song we had several people dancing and even more requesting songs to sing along too. The participants showed a good deal of energy and enthusiasm during the dance. Everyone was jumping, stomping, throwing hands up, and doing The Macarena, letting loose and having a great time. Everyone who sang was cheered on during and after their song. The group dynamic was awesome, and I think it was one of the highlights of this week.
Dounia Cleaver, Program Instructor, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara:
I have been attending Camp Happiness since it first began. The guys love this week and look forward to it every year. It is a highlight of the summer for our guys!
Heather London, Program Instructor, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara:
My favorite part was going on the paddle boats with our guys. They had a blast. I am happy to be a part of that. My other favorite part was dancing with everyone.
Sonya Gates, Assistant Director, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara:
I don’t have one specific event to list as a favorite as the campers overall had a great time. I have heard many compliments on the addition of the flag raising and campfire to the day’s activities. The YMCA staff did an excellent job especially changing things up to account for the rainy days. Hats off to Luke and the counselors for a well run camp.
This by far was the best Camp Happiness. I was sad and disappointed that I could not attend the full week as this has been loads of fun and good times. This week reminded me of why I have worked at Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara all these years – it has renewed my desire to make a difference. Seeing the campers laughing, singing and trying new things has been great. Spending time with the campers, counselors, volunteers and staff has been wonderful and I am thankful to have been able to participate in Camp 2011.
Lisa Scalzo, Director of Aging and Day Services, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara:
I have been involved in camp since its inception. This year was packed with an excellent variety of activities that most everyone could participate in. Due to individual preferences and abilities it is difficult to keep a lot of activity going at once. But with the amount of activities held simultaneously (5 or 6 activities) this need was met! It was amazing to see people up young as 10 up thru 91 benefiting from the camp. Big thank you to all who coordinated and volunteered – Amazing!
Candace Seelbinder, Day-Hab Specialist, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara – Day Services, Wheatfield:
I had the pleasure of taking Burton K. and Michael D. to Camp Happiness this year. The weather held up and it was beautiful. They enjoyed the campfire, songs, songs during lunch, making notecards and receiving fake tattoos. Michael was able to enjoy his first horse and carriage ride. The staff at Camp Happiness was so energetic and enthused it certainly made the campers’ day; they all left with smiles on their faces and wished they could have stayed longer.
Shannon McNerney, Day-Hab Specialist, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara – Day Services, Wheatfield:
On the day we went to Camp Happiness not only was it beautiful outside by the lake, but my specific camper I took absolutely enjoyed himself. When we arrived he got to make a visor with staff’s help due to his blindness. He wore it with great joy all day long. He also enjoyed the songs that were sung in the mess hall and also the food. It is nice to have a place to bring them that puts a smile on their faces regardless of their “disability”.
Robert Karson, Day-Hab Specialist, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara – Day Services, Wheatfield:
My favorite part of camp was seeing just how much fun our campers had there. In particular was how one older participant from my room had so much fun. Being blind, it is more challenging to involve him in activities than your average person, but being around all the singing and bustle of activity at camp he had a smile ten miles wide. At one point the camp staff was stomping around the mess hall and singing a song and this camper started laughing and smiling and looking happier than I’ve ever seen him. His smile pretty much summed up the whole point of camp by itself.
Susan Broughton, Day-Hab Specialist, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara – Day Services, Wheatfield:
I attended Camp Happiness with Jake and Stan. Jake O. had a blast. After lunch (which he enjoyed a second helping of) a roving musician stopped at our table singing and playing the accordion. Jake was clapping and stomping his feet and laughing. Jake is almost 80 years old and prefers a calm quiet environment, however, the magic of Camp Happiness brought out a side of Jake I had not seen before. I hope he’s able to attend next year.
Stan N. attended camp for two days. He talked non-stop about it in the days leading up to “camp days”. Upon our arrival he immediately wanted to make a sun visor and talk with the volunteers. Stan talked about Lake Niagara and he knows Canada is on the other side. Stan ate more lunch than I’d ever seen him eat (the meal is always delicious) and made friends with several volunteers who were always friendly and helpful.
Carlvetta Alston, Day-Hab Specialist, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara – Day Services, Wheatfield:
This was my first year at Camp Happiness. All the campers seemed to enjoy themselves. Jean P. enjoyed playing toss the ring. They all seemed to enjoy the singing and the campfire. Smiles were everywhere during arts and crafts and lunch. The highlight of Camp Happiness was when they were presented their t-shirts and certificates.
Evie Kresman, Day-Hab Specialist, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara – Day Services, Wheatfield:
The experience of Camp Happiness in most part was a very good one. The sing-a-longs on the bus as well as at Camp Kenan were both enjoyable and memorable. All the oldies but goodies. The campfire was exceptionally enjoyable.
Mary Jo Iorfida, Day-Hab Specialist, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara – Day Services, Wheatfield:
Our camper Liz G. enjoyed Camp Happiness. She really enjoyed the horse and buggy ride. She also enjoyed doing the arts and crafts. Liz also participated in the singing after lunch. She was very excited to receive her certificate and shirt.
Paula N. told me she really enjoyed the camp fire and making s’mores. She also expressed how she enjoyed the lunches and the sing-along after lunch. Paula also enjoyed the horse and buggy ride. She is looking forward to next year.
Catherine Owens, Day-Hab Specialist, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara – Day Services, Wheatfield:
I attended Camp Happiness with Sherwood M., Stanley S. and Karen H. The experience was very nice and it was good for the participants to get out of the classroom and to do something different. Especially when it is something so enjoyable. They made nice arts and crafts, most of our campers enjoy eating and the meals at camp were very delicious, with a great salad bar. The bus rides to and from the camp were great, I look forward to going again next year.
Day-Hab Specialist, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara – Day Services, Wheatfield:
The staff and participants enjoyed everything about Camp Happiness. The food, games, activities, pool, camp fire, etc. were so much fun. It was a pleasure to be there, hope to see you there again next year.
Sandy Thomas, Day-Hab Specialist, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara – Day Services, Wheatfield:
This was my second year attending Camp Happiness. It was very fun and the individuals I had with me really seemed to enjoy themselves. The ride down there is fun and pretty. We went on the horse and buggy ride. The horses were really big and beautiful. I think the part the campers liked the best is the food. It’s always very good. Camp was a very fun and positive experience. My favorite part is seeing the smiles on everyone’s faces. I’m looking forward to going next year.
Rena Scharlau, Day-Hab Specialist, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara – Day Services, Wheatfield:
This was my first experience at camp. We really enjoyed the experience with the camp fire and arts and crafts.
Mario Nobilio, Day-Hab Specialist, Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara – Day Services, Wheatfield:
Everyone that I saw at camp was having a great time. All the staff and volunteers were so helpful and made everyone who went feel very welcomed. One of my memories was doing the sing-a-longs near the fire pit and also swimming. The person I had swimming with me appeared to really enjoy it and smiled the entire time.