Thanks to the Jewish Telegraph and JLife for featuring this article.

For parents with a seriously ill child, the summer holidays can often be more challenging than term-time.

This is where charity Camp Simcha comes in. In the past couple of months, in addition to its core practical and therapeutic support services, the charity has run a residential retreat for families, a summer day scheme and taken several children on the trip of a lifetime with its sister organisation Camp Simcha USA.

Both are designed to bring respite to parents, together with precious family time and a chance for the ill child to enjoy the same holiday fun as their peers.

“This year some 75% of families we support will have attended either retreat or our summer scheme outings – or both,” explains Camp Simcha Head of Services Daniel Gillis.

“At retreat, families spend three wonderful days away, enjoying a range of specially programmed activities, which this year included helicopter rides, outings, themed activities – including a Camp Simcha has talent night – and ‘dinner for two’ for parents only.

“With a doctor and carers on site, parents can relax knowing that all their child’s medical needs are catered for.

Along with Camp Simcha staff, each child has a trained Big Brother or Sister volunteer who looks after them, while their parents relax and recharge with others who understand their daily challenges.

Camp Simcha parent Jess Goldberg, from Prestwich, Manchester, whose son Ori, two, has pulmonary hypertension, attended both retreat and the summer scheme outings this year, with her husband Rafi and Ori’s three older siblings.

“We got to family retreat and just felt at home. The kids each got volunteers and off they went – and from the second we arrived they were having fun.

“Rafi and I got a rare chance to spend time together as a couple and just relax and laugh. We were treated with massages, and we had time to sit in the sun and get to know other parents who are also going through challenges with their children; you could tell everyone just felt really peaceful and calm. Amongst the chaos that we have every day – to have that calm feeling was such a gift.

“And the summer scheme is great because it’s planned activities that mean we get out as a family with everything sorted for us – location, food, coach if you need. We just have to turn up. It’s a lot of fun and so nice to see the other families again and offload to each other. Our kids also feel excited to see the other kids, friends they have made with shared experiences.”

This year’s Camp Simcha summer scheme has included trips to Stockeld Park, Magna Science Adventure Centre and The Web Adventure Park with more planned throughout the school holidays.