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A Camp in a Class of its Own
Chartwell’s Happy Day Camp provides an experience filled with adventure and activities to make summer memorable for your children.

by Liz Hunter

Over the past couple of years, the secret has been getting out across South Jersey about a hidden gem called Chartwell’s Happy Day Camp. Offered on the site of Chartwell Family Oasis, a premier family swim club located in Marlton that was founded 45 years ago, the summer camp is truly a unique experience for children in the area.

There’s no shortage of excitement on site. Across 15 acres, Chartwell’s property includes six glistening pools (with two water slides), a splash park, fields for soccer, football and baseball, courts for basketball and pickleball, and playgrounds, plus an indoor game room with ping pong and arcade machines.

Executive Director of Chartwell Happy Day Camp, Sharon Damiano, says Happy Day Camp is the perfect fit for any kid who wants to have fun.

“Our concept is that of a boutique day camp, with a vibrant, upbeat energy, rather than the feel of camping in the woods. When you are here, it feels like you’re in a big backyard with your family,” she says. “There is a real feeling of togetherness even though there are so many activities happening simultaneously, it’s not disconnected.”

Available for ages 4-14, Happy Day Camp does not require any minimum in days or weeks. Families can select any week(s) or day(s) that work with their summer schedule, in full-, half-, and extended-day options. Campers can be dropped off as early as 7 a.m. at no additional cost, and camp activities run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with a late pick up until 6 p.m.

No day is the same at Happy Day Camp. Campers rotate from sports to drama, arts to music, swimming to open play, and they can even cool off inside the air conditioning. The variety means kids are never bored doing just one activity all day long—they take swimming lessons, create arts and crafts, try science experiments, music and learn about nature.

Chartwell also understands how important it is to hire the right people for its camp. “Our first criteria is that you have to have a spirit of liking kids, or else why would you be here? Our staff are all kid-oriented, from the counselors and admins to management. We consider the campers part of our family,” she continues.

Chartwell’s camp director has been on staff for 18 years, the operations manager for 15 and administrative staff for 12. Other staff include department directors for sports, drama and arts, and even a New Jersey Forest Ranger who will be showing campers the large nature trails on site and teaching about the Pinelands and other nearby environments.

Campers also develop a closeness with their counselors. “It’s amazing the impact good counselors can have on kids, and those are the kind of people we look for. When you are a positive influence to a kid, they’ll never forget it,” Damiano says.

Word is traveling about Happy Day Camp and enrollment has been growing year after year. The camp stayed open during the pandemic, even in that first summer and had no cases stemming from our camp. Last year, they had people coming from out of nowhere who had heard of them but had never been here before, and when they stepped on site, they were enthralled by everything offered. “You really have to see it with your own eyes,” she adds.

The increased interest in the camp has spurred expansion and infrastructure investments at Chartwell, including more irrigation for the fields, canopies for shade and additional concrete venues throughout.

Chartwell will be hosting open houses every Sunday in April, beginning April 3. “You can’t just go online and look at a website to get a feel for the camp. You have to visit to see how unique we are. There’s nothing like this in the Delaware Valley,” Damiano says. “There’s nothing wrong with other camps, but we’re just in a different class. If you’re looking for an upbeat, well-landscaped, creative facility, Chartwell is it. We love kids and kids love us because they keep coming back.”

Chartwell Family Oasis and Happy Day Camp
136 Paragon Ave.
(856) 983-8827

Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Family Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 11.
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