The largest of Chai Lifeline’s retreat programs, the annual Winter Retreat regularly brings more than 500 family members, staff, and volunteers together for inspiration, information, and support.
Because the medical and social needs of children with life-threatening and chronic illnesses are different, the Winter Retreat focuses on either of those conditions. Parents have a unique opportunity to discuss the reality of their lives, hospital stays, early intervention plans, therapies and treatment schedules, while their children enjoy bonding with one another and their loving counselors.
Chai Lifeline’s newest retreat program brought entire families to the Horn Campus, home of Camp Simcha, to experience Simcha magic together for three days. Moms, dads, Camp Simcha campers and their siblings got to enjoy everything from concerts to Color War while discovering the true value of a Camp Simcha summer: friendship, growth, and love.
Life throws ever more challenges to mothers and fathers of sick children. Retreats designed specifically for mothers or fathers allow them to recharge and get ready for the next round. These one- and two-day events are a combination of respite, friendship, strategizing, and training for what lies ahead. In the company of those who truly understand them, mothers and fathers give themselves permission to disengage from the routines of their lives and pay attention to themselves.
Family retreats bring small groups of families who share a bond, for example, similar diagnoses or regional location, together for a weekend at the Stella K. Abraham Family Center. Guests are invited to use the campus’ many recreational facilities, and a social worker of Chai Lifeline professional is in residence to facilitate discussions and act as a resource for parents.
Individual families are welcomed at the Family Center throughout the fall, winter, and spring whenever there are no formal programs. Families spend their time relaxing and enjoying the magnificent vistas that surround the Horn campus.
Caring for a sick child can strain marital bonds at the time when husbands and wives most need the support of their partners. Programs like Relax, Renew, and Reconnect are a unique opportunity for parents to recharge their relationship, knowing that their children are well cared for in their absence.
Parents can heal following the devastating loss of a child during the three-day annual Healing Hearts retreats. The intense peer and professional support available enables grieving mothers and fathers to find a voice for their sorrow and move forward on their healing journeys. Following the retreat, parents have the option of joining on online chat room that extends the impact of the retreat year-round.
SibTrip weekend retreats take children whose lives have been upended by the illness or loss of a sibling away from the stress of their lives. The love, compassion, and experience of Chai Lifeline’s volunteer counselors and staff help brothers and sisters find normalcy and companionship within the abnormal universe of pediatric illness.
parents, patients and siblings leaned in to support one another and learn how to find the support they need at retreats, respite vacations and family camps.
“As the parent of a newly diagnosed child, I felt so overwhelmed when I came (to the Annual Winter Retreat). In just a weekend, I learned so much, but most of all, I feel like I’ve made friends who I can talk to about what’s happening. I am leaving here with hope.”