It’s always enchanting to watch the buses pull in to Camp Simcha. Four times a summer, children alight into the waiting arms of counselors, go through a purple arch and emerge into a world where illness recedes and fun awaits.
This year campers stepped into the world of the Magic Kingdom. The fun began only a few hours after they arrived. The sun went down and campers were treated to the Magic Kingdom Parade. As the day turned to night, the lights of the floats (golf carts and tractors) and costumes lit up the dark, and the campers made their way through camp singing and cheering.
Each day Camp Simcha was transformed. With the help of hundreds of counselors, specialists, wait staff, lifeguards and other staff members, children were transported through Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, and Frontier Land. They became superheroes not only in dress, but also in their imaginations, and by the end of the summer, in their hearts and minds.
Every day was extraordinary…here are just a few of the highlights.
New York! New York! (and more!) Both the boys and girls of Camp Simcha enjoyed an exciting outing in New York City. For the boys, highlights included a boat ride around the tip of Manhattan, bus tour of major sites, and a barbecue overlooking the George Washington Bridge. “We owned New York that day,” said boys’ head counselor Ari Dembitzer.
The girls recreated the March of Hope, a glorious march across the Brooklyn Bridge. As they stopped in the center, the girls released colorful balloons into the air, symbolically letting go of pain and negatively and simultaneously breathing in courage and hope.
Campers from Camp Simcha Special also enjoyed special time outside of camp. The girls spent a wonderful afternoon at Café Chocolate in Woodbourne. “The girls loved being like everyone else, just spending time in a coffee shop,” averred Rivky Schwartz, the girls’ head counselor. “And Woodbourne loved them. It was a great trip all around.”
Camp Simcha Special Boys oldest division was treated to the Subway Series, the annual rivalry between New York’s Yankees and Mets baseball team. The boys traveled to Yankee Stadium, where their enthusiasm and cheering inspired everyone around them.
I Believe. Camp Simcha’s girls had the extraordinary experience of putting their beliefs into words on a giant blackboard with 100 spaces for “I believe.” “It’s Gonna Be Okay,” each camper said, “Because I believe in…” Responses ranged from “I can fly,” “Love,” and “Healing to “Camp Simcha,” something we can all believe in. See the video.
Escape the Room. Our campers discovered they didn’t even need to leave camp to find mystery and suspense. Camp Simcha’s Escape the Room challenged campers young and old to find answers to clues and progress through one of the hottest group activities around.
Inspiration All Around. Camp Simcha Special campers, who are pretty inspiring themselves, got to meet young adults who refuse to allow physical disabilities to keep them from living their dreams. Lindsay Hilton is a competitive rugby player and Cross-Fit athlete who was born without lower arms or legs. Her message, “You never know what you can do unless you try” resonated with our girls. Guitarist George Dennehy did more than entertain the boys. The musician, who was born without arms, showed them that disability doesn’t mean giving up on one’s dreams.
Flex That Pitching Arm. NY Mets star pitcher Nelson Figueroa joined the roster of professional athletes who have spent a day with us. Figueroa’s amazing talent was on display during an impromptu baseball clinic. His humanity and love were evident when he signed baseballs and photos for all the boys, delivering each one with high fives and hugs.