Summer camp campuses often lay quiet during the cold winter months, but Camp Simcha’s sprawling 125-acre campus in upstate New York was filled with laughter, friendship, and learning this past weekend for the Chai Lifeline LH Financial Services National Retreat for families living with pediatric cancer. Families from across North America had an opportunity to connect with other Chai Lifeline families facing similar challenges, gaining support from their peers while tapping into the knowledge of a team of professionals, to help navigate their medical journey.
The retreat featured programs and activities that delivered educational tools, inspiration, solidarity, and simcha. The weekend included a keynote from Chai Lifeline’s CEO Rabbi Simcha Scholar and insightful guidance from Dr. David A. Pelcovitz on developing “A Toolbox for coping,” which taught parents critical skills in managing through crisis. Peer support groups were available to parents, facilitated by Dr. Pelcovitz and Esther Leah Sandhaus, MSW, regional director in the Southeast. Children enjoyed programming for all ages, including a Game Show hosted by the Schnitzel Guys and a Shabbos party, filled with treats and singing. When Shabbos was over, families enjoyed a Motzei Shabbos party and a Melave Malka. From start to finish, connections were created, and memories were sealed.
One participant shared “What an amazing difference a short weekend can make in providing us with the opportunity to learn from each other and the expert staff… we experienced tears, laughter, and learning.”
Hosting the weekend getaway at Camp Simcha allowed parents to see where hundreds of children experience a sanctuary of hope each summer, strengthening their spirits. The Chai Lifeline team of volunteers and staff recognize that there is a human need behind every call for help and this program delivered that and more in a relaxed environment with friends, old and new alike.
“Witnessing families getting away to receive the much-needed support they deserve is truly awe-inspiring,” said Chai Lifeline’s National Director of Client Services, Rabbi Mordechai Gobioff, MSW. “The serenity of Camp Simcha promoted calm and family connection. A weekend in a supportive environment helps every member of the family feel less isolated and more loved.”
To learn more about Chai Lifeline, visit www.chailifeline.org.