Dear Mom, This place is incredible.
A letter from a Camp Simcha lifegaurd
Minky Iczkovits is 17 years-old and loves swimming! Pursuing her passion, Minky became a certified lifeguard and is spending a few weeks working as a lifeguard at Camp Simcha. Together with her family, Minky has been involved with Chai Lifeline Montreal from a very young age. She loves having fun and making people happy is her ultimate goal.
Wow! I don’t even know where to start.
Camp Simcha is incredible. It’s crazy to think how just a few days have passed, yet my whole life and perspective has changed. Everyone you meet has another story, went through different challenges, yet are the most happy and inspiring people I’ve ever met.
The staff is incredible too! They are always showing their unconditional love to every single camper, whether it’s by randomly giving a camper a kiss on the head, or giving them hugs, they truly love each and every camper as their own child. Just the other day I was rotating my camper and chilling by the lake with another counselor and her camper. (Rotating is when extra counselors step in to spend time with a camper so that their counselor can have a bit of a break.) We were told to ask campers if they have a wish the camp could fulfill, so the counselor asks this girl with MS what her wish is. With her limited speech, she said confidently “I have everything I need”. You could tell how this camper truly meant it.
I was walking around on the grounds and met a blind camper who has an incredible voice and memory, and she knows every song after hearing it once. I asked her to sing Hamilton for me and she sang the entire song beautifully – including the rap!
Another girl I met can’t eat anything besides fruit, veggies and whole protein. I asked if I could eat in front of her and she said sure, because it would make her feel more uncomfortable if I didn’t eat. It’s emotionally incredible what people go through in their day to day lives, how they overcome.
Davening (praying) is truly amazing. Everyone does whatever they know and whatever they can do. A little girl was sitting next me to with her counselor and while buckling her into her wheelchair she started giggling and giggling, and the entire quiet davening room just heard this adorable little girl’s giggles and she wouldn’t stop! It made everyone smile and giggle too. At supper time, I was watching a girl with MS and with her limited speech she said a beracha (blessing) on her water and she bentched (grace after meals) after washing for bread. I also saw a girl who is blind daven the entire shemoneh esrei with a braille siddur, with immense concentration.
Our first Shabbos here was so beautiful. On Shabbos, they select a few campers to speak. One camper has incredible energy and spoke about making others happy and how we should greet everyone with a cheerful face. This particular camper cheers louder then everyone and goes crazy wild for whomever speaks or performs on stage. She gets the whole crowd cheering and makes every camper feel special. She cheers for herself too sometimes.
There is also a camper choir where campers from all ages and stages sing and they each had a solo, singing from their hearts. We encouraged a more quiet blind girl to sing and she got up there and sang an entire song alone in front of the huge audience! Her smile and glow lit up the room.
At the lake, as a lifeguard, I’ve seen so many incredible things. Girls going onto speedboats for their first time – some of them only have one arm or leg, or are fully paralyzed. But their smiles burst forth with their hair in their face. They are so, so happy.
I have to go rotate my camper with CP now and bring her to a talent show, so I’ve got to go but we’ll speak later! Missing you! I am humbled and in awe of this incredible place, there’s so much more to say. I love you!