Abigail, kindly shares her 4th blog post with us.

I want to share with you today my experience with Camp Simcha’s amazing Family Retreat.

For those of you who haven’t heard of this, let me explain: every summer – apart from during Covid, Camp Simcha invites families they support to a relaxing few days away from real life, with amazing activities and outings for each member of the family, and medical staff and carers on site. It really is super fun – but it also gives the parents of seriously ill children an opportunity to take a break from their stressful lives and have some fun as well as allowing the kids have fun with the volunteers.

I’ve gone on many retreats during my years with Camp Simcha and somehow each time I’m amazed by how much Camp Simcha surprises me with such a memorable experience. When I arrive, my family and I are greeted by excited and energetic volunteers and activities immediately bring me into the retreat vibe, which is definitely unique!

After taking a break from retreat for a few years I went back to Retreat 2022. I was a bit unsure how it would work though because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to get involved in some of the activities as I am in a wheelchair right now and am quite weak while recovering from major surgery! But obviously, in true Camp Simcha style, this did not stop the fun! The team made sure that activities could be done in a way that accommodate my chair and, if not, they organised an alternative for me which was just so thoughtful of them!

As I am not up to doing anything too active, I started off with getting a manicure and pedicure. This was something Camp Simcha organised just for me as an alternative wheelchair-appropriate activity. I love getting my nails done, and my Family Liaison Officer knows this! This was also a super fun way for me to spend time catching up with my volunteer. I know it may sound like a small thing but it was just what I needed.

As I am still healing I can’t really do a lot of things by myself as I need a lot of physical support at the moment. Being wheelchair-bound has been quite restrictive for me but retreat provided an opportunity for me to have a super fun time in a safe environment during a period where I wasn’t able to get out much! This put a massive smile on my face and helped me feel refreshed and rejuvenated.

My highlight on the trip was painting a swimming bag for my FLO. An FLO or “Family Liaison Officer” is assigned to each family and they provide support emotionally as well as offering things we sometimes didn’t know we needed such as therapeutic art sessions and other support mechanisms. Our FLO has been such a big part of my life and journey so it was super fun for me to paint a bag for her as a little gift and decorate it with our personal jokes!

Retreat really is a one-of-a-kind experience – shout out to my amazing volunteer and FLO (you know who you are!) for making it such a special experience.