Thank you to the Jewish Tribune for featuring this article.

Camp Simcha’s first Shabbos residential retreat since Covid brought vital respite and a sense of community for families with seriously ill children.

Over 160 family members from London, Manchester and Gateshead, joined Camp Simcha staff, volunteers, carers and a medical team for the four-day retreat in Daventry — enjoying a range of bespoke activities, as well as chizuk from Rabbi Shraga Feivel Zimmerman, the Av Beis Din of the Federation.

Singer Buchi Gluck entertained families during a concert after Shabbat while activities on Thursday and Friday morning included roller-skating, climbing, painting workshops and inflatables. The weekend ended with a New-York themed breakfast.

Hayley Phillips, Camp Simcha retreats co-ordinator said the retreat had an incredible atmosphere. “About a third of the family members
were on their first-ever retreat and to some extent it felt like everyone experienced it through their eyes. “For the last few years our families have felt really isolated. What they experience being part of the Camp Simcha community — as well as all the activities and support, helps families leave with renewed strength to face their challenges.”

One Camp Simcha parent described being part of a “new extended family.” “From the moment we walked in we were surrounded by so much love and care … The fact that there was such attention given to every detail, so much thought and passion put into every activity and theme, made this Shabbos so unique. “The atmosphere at the Motzoei Shabbos programme was indescribable. It really was the highlight.

“When we got home this afternoon the fun continued as the children discussed the events of the past few days, practised the words of the beautiful theme song and decorated the fridge with photos and magnets. Seeing kids who are struggling sitting with the lyrics and singing over and over, ‘We are all heroes… We can do anything…’ brought tears to my eyes.”