While the Camp Simcha campus is traditionally filled with children and teens enjoying the beloved summer camp experience, the sprawling campsite in Glen Spey, NY was the recent site of a Chai Lifeline family retreat, December 2-3.
Twenty-three families impacted by pediatric cancer came from across New York, New Jersey, and Maryland for the much-anticipated retreat. While some had been to previous family weekends, for many others, it was their first time. For those still dealing with the recent shock of a cancer diagnosis, the chance to be with others who could understand their pain and confusion over what lay ahead was particularly reassuring. But even for those who consider themselves Chai Lifeline “veterans,” the bonds that are created at these retreats often last a lifetime. Parents who don’t often get to see their children thrive at camp with their peers, experienced the pure joy of seeing their children in their element.
One mother described her experience by explaining that only other parents who are going through what she is could even begin to relate to her emotions. “As the parent of a son who is the only visibly handicapped kid in his entire school, the mental challenges of seeing him leave home every morning are often painful beyond description. For at least this one weekend, I could speak to other mothers and fathers who know what I am going through so I am deeply thankful to have had that opportunity.”
“The beauty and intimacy of the Camp Simcha setting create an environment of bonding and support that can’t be found anywhere else in the world,” said Rabbi Mordechai Gobioff, Director of Client Services for Chai Lifeline.
Entertainment was provided throughout the weekend, including “The Shnitzel Guys” who organized family-oriented games, comedic performances, and much more. They created an upbeat feeling among all the participants and allowed them a real emotional escape.
“Our goal is to make sure these parents and families remember that they are not alone in what they are going through,” said Rabbi Simcha Scholar, Chief Executive Officer of Chai Lifeline. “Every parent and sibling here is confronting all types of challenges but we know that there is no better way for them to confront those difficult moments than alongside other families who understand what they are going through. Watching a parent who has only known how to express their emotions through tears being given the chance to laugh and enjoy a weekend away is a truly blessed experience.”
To learn more about Chai Lifeline, visit www.chailifeline.org.