What is your Camp Simcha story?
I started volunteering for Camp Simcha when I was in Year 12. I knew about Camp Simcha because they had held a carnival at my school and asked 6th formers to volunteer and run it.
Also my older siblings had volunteered for Camp Simcha. So I was very aware of Camp Simcha in general. Daniel Gillis, Head of Services, delivered a talk to my school encouraging us to volunteer as babysitters at the creche. I remember when I arrived I was one of the youngest volunteers and quite shy and nervous about how to interact with families but everyone was so nice and encouraging and said just be yourself and be natural. I found that really comforting. I also remember how some of the older volunteers greeted the children like they were celebrities. They let go of their inhibitions and put kids they knew from before on their shoulders and they all made the children feel like they had arrived at the event of the year. I later became a Big Sister and went on Retreat and volunteered at the Keshet summer scheme.
What did Camp Simcha do for you?
I was with a family whose 3-year-old had cancer. It made me realise that it’s not just the child, it’s the whole family that are affected. It’s hard on marriages, siblings at school, others in the school year group – no-one exists in a vacuum. So it’s really important that people going through such difficult experiences feel supported. That’s why Camp Simcha exists and they find out ways to support them in whatever way possible for example a homework club for siblings of an ill child whose parents are really busy.
Where / how are you now?
My life now is very different now from when I was involved with Camp Simcha. I’m an English teacher and I have two babies who keep me pretty busy. But Camp Simcha was a big part of my youth and I would like my children to be involved when they are of an age to volunteer. I think it’s really special to be part of a community that encourages its youth to volunteer for organisations like Camp Simcha because it makes us more sensitive, more self-aware, more giving and more appreciative and grateful for health and in general it encourages a generation of people to be less self-absorbed.
Your views about being part of Camp Simcha Alumni network and what that might mean
I think it’s great and I’m really pleased to be part of it.