Cuyahoga Valley National Park is trying to find anyone who attended a camp for Akron school children that closed nearly 70 years ago. Happy Days Lodge is now an event space and rental facility in Virginia Kendall area of the national park.
But when it was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, it was a camp for children from the Akron Public Schools. Now, the National Park Service is collecting oral histories from people who attended the camp.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park’s Jennie Vasarhelyi says the camp closed in the mid-1940s and very little information has so far turned up from that era.
“The great hall that’s in there is where the dorm was where kids stayed. Today, we have a Residential Education Center, so we use that as our camp facility. Happy Days Lodge – that great hall -- is now essentially a large auditorium, which we use for concerts and lectures.”
Vasarhelyi adds that the goal of the oral history of Happy Days Camp is to better understand the youth development programs which have been going on in the park for nearly a century.
“It might help inform current youth programs. We’re also embarking on new exhibits for a new visitors’ center we’re hoping to have for Cuyahoga Valley National Park in the next few years.”
Happy Days Camp was named after the Roosevelt-era song, “Happy Days are Here Again." After the Cuyahoga Valley National Park was established in 1974, it became the park’s first visitor center.
People interested in sharing their stories should contact Chief of Interpretation Jennie Vasarhelyi at (440) 546-5990 or firstname.lastname@example.org.