Over 1,200 Chai Lifeline Children Take Part in Camp Simcha Without Borders Initiative
Just a few short months ago, many parents around the world weren’t sure how their children would spend their summer break. Cancelations and closures of camps due to COVID-19 meant children would be left with limited options. For families confronting serious pediatric illnesses, those options were even fewer.
“Every year, children with cancer, disabilities, and chronic illnesses look forward to Camp Simcha and Camp Simcha Special, our medically supervised summer programs, with much anticipation,” said Rabbi Simcha Scholar, Chai Lifeline’s Chief Executive Officer. “This summer, after months of quarantine and lockdown, our families needed a break more than ever before. Chai Lifeline was committed to making sure our children, wherever they may be, would get to experience the magic of Simcha, in a safe and exciting way.”
To achieve that goal, Chai Lifeline launched Camp Simcha Without Borders, a new initiative that is bringing the famous Camp Simcha energy to more than 1,200 children across the globe. The programming, created with input from Camp Simcha’s medical team, was designed to prioritize the health and wellbeing of campers and staff, adhering to all local state regulations and Department of Health guidelines.
Camp Simcha Without Borders kicked off with a rocking drive-in concert for Chai Lifeline families on July 1 featuring Beri Weber, Avraham Fried, Yoni Z, the Yeshiva Boys Choir and others.
“Camp Simcha goes all out in a big way to make sure everyone is included and everyone is happy,” said Annie, a Camp Simcha camper who took in the concert from the comfort and safety of her car. The event was the first family outing for Annie and her family since the pandemic began.
In Chicago, Chai Lifeline Midwest ran boys’ and girls’ day camps for local children, culminating in an incredible limousine parade which drew more than 600 members of the local community.
“We’ve always heard of Camp Simcha, but having the opportunity to actually witness the joy and see the smiles on the campers’ faces in our town was something I’ll never forget,” said Steven, who attended the parade with his own children.
Chai Lifeline Mid-Atlantic followed with their own day camps in Baltimore, and in August, Chai Lifeline New Jersey/Pennsylvania ran day camps for more than 100 children in Lakewood.
Chai Lifeline Southeast held a series of socially distanced events and activities for families in the Miami area, and Chai Lifeline West Coast ran a summer-long virtual, interactive camp for children across the region. Programs and events also took place in Brooklyn, Monsey, Queens, Long Island, Columbus, Detroit, Philadelphia, and various other cities.
Simcha also spread across the globe, with Chai Lifeline Canada, Chaiyanu/Chai Lifeline Israel, and Camp Simcha UK organizing special Camp Simcha Without Borders programs and events in their respective countries as well.
In addition, Camp Simcha’s beautiful 125-acre campus in Glen Spey, NY, hosted two modified sessions of Camp Simcha Special this summer.
“In the end, we are so grateful that it worked out and our daughter could experience an unforgettable summer,” wrote one Chai Lifeline mother after her daughter returned from camp. “The love and warmth she received from her counselor and the Simcha staff is amazing. Thank you for going above and beyond to make this all possible.”
“Though the current pandemic presents us all with unprecedented challenges, there is always reason to be hopeful,” said Rabbi Scholar. “The smiles on the faces of our children, and the dedication of our camp staff and volunteers show us that simcha truly has no limits.”
Chai Lifeline is an international children’s health support network providing social, emotional and financial assistance to children with life-threatening or lifelong illnesses and their families. To learn more, visit www.chailifeline.org.