A special Camp Simcha break

Children with life-threatening illnesses were joined by parents and siblings at a weekend retreat organised by Camp Simcha at Down Hall Country House Hotel in Hertfordshire.

Thirty families from across the Jewish religious spectrum brought 100 youngsters to the party. An on-site zoo included a tarantula, snakes, turtles and donkey rides. For the adults there were stress-relief programmes and a candlelit dinner for two while their offspring enjoyed a murder mystery and other entertainment.

“It’s hard to describe the magic of such an event,” Camp Simcha executive director Neville Goldschneider reported.

“When you watch a seven-year-old boy blind from his cancer play the drums to a clapping, cheering crowd, you know you are making a difference to the lives of these very special children and families. Words cannot express how grateful we are to the volunteers who give so much love and care.”

One parent said that “the remarkable aspect of retreat is the unbridled joy and zest for life shared by all participants. A Chasidic rabbi and his wife and a very secular couple can be seen quietly giving strength to each other. We don’t just empathise. We feel each other’s pain.

“We sang happy birthday for a youngster who just turned 17. His birthday wish? That God will take away his brain tumour. Nobody has to ask questions or explain, we all just know.”

    Last updated: 2:39pm, July 10 2008