It looked like a camp, sounded like camp, and was held in a camp. But as 18 families from across North America discovered last week, Chai Lifeline’s Family Adventure was so much more than camp.
“We didn’t call it a camp,” stated Rabbi Simcha Scholar, Chai Lifeline’s executive vice president,” because it wasn’t a camp. It was a chance for families to reconnect with one another and develop their own support system for coping with a child’s cancer treatment.”
Family camp has long been advocated by pediatric oncology specialists as a means of helping children and their families find support and understanding of their situations. The Chai Lifeline Family Adventure took the idea of family camp one step further; its mission is to foster long term bonds among families who felt isolated by illness in their geographic communities.
“This is the first time we have been able to be a family since my son was diagnosed over a year ago,” said Cora I. Cancer had essentially ripped apart the fabric of her family’s life. She spent so much time in the hospital with one son that his three brothers had become jealous, sullen, and worried at the same time.
“We came because I wanted my boys to meet other boys whose siblings are sick. Here they are not different from everyone else,” Cora smiled. She went on to explain that she and her husband, along with the rest of the parents, were enjoying themselves as well.
“It’s great to meet other families here. When my son got sick, I didn’t know anything. I didn’t have any place to turn to. Now we have.”
“When a child is diagnosed, everything stops,” said Motty Gobioff, director of client services, who developed the Family Adventure concept with colleagues Nachman Maimon and Faige Yudkovsky. “These three days are a chance to exhale…we’ve created a safe environment where parents and children can catch their collective breath.”
For more information about Chai Lifeline’s programs for families battling pediatric illness or loss, email firstname.lastname@example.org