Camp Happy provides a summer camp experience at no cost to kids living at the Harford Family House

Posted at 4:30 PM, Jul 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-22 17:57:11-04

The energy is high in a small trailer behind the apartments of the Harford Family House.  Usher is playing in the background as the kids learn hip hop moves.

"Bob your head up and down, you always have to have your groove in hip hop," dance instructor Melissa Hudson tells the kids, and they emphatically follow her lead.

The morning's dance lesson is part of Arts week at Camp Happy, a summer camp developed by 11-year-old Grace Callwood and her non-profit We Cancerve.  Last year, Grace and her mom approached the Harford Family House about having the camp there.

"I thought it was a wonderful idea because our children were just hanging out in the parking lot and not doing much of anything during the summer months, just really bored," said Sarah Ortiz-Brown, the program director at the Harford Family House. 

The Harford Family House is a transitional facility for families who are facing homelessness. It is the only facility in the county that allows intact families to stay together in one apartment.

"When you go back to school, one of the first things you talk about is what you did during the summer," said Ortiz-Brown.  "And everybody wants to talk about their experiences and we want to make sure that the children at the Harford Family House have really positive experiences during the summer months."

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Each week of the camp has a different theme, with activities and guest speakers lined up to fit within the theme. Seven-year-old Jasmine says she is having a blast at the camp.

"Everybody at the camp is really nice," she said.  "My favorite part was going horse back riding."

And the kids who volunteer with We Cancerve say they're also having a great time doing the activities and meeting new people, all while helping others.

"I like to help people who are less fortunate than I am like homeless, sick and foster kids, which are the kind of people that We Cancerve helps," said Erin Acerno, a board member of We Cancerve.

To learn more about We Cancerve and how you can help with this year's and future Camp Happy's, click here

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