Simcha in the City: Camp Lifeline Director Sonya

Have you ever felt you wanted your work days to slow down? Not many of us can actually say that, I never thought I would, but this summer that is MY story.

Over 6 months ago I was given one of the biggest challenges since coming to Chai Lifeline. I was tasked with running our small but brilliant day camp called Camp Lifeline. What is Camp Lifeline? It’s similar to Chai Lifeline’s renowned Camp Simcha, but local. Sometimes I call it “Simcha in the City”.

Camp Lifeline is a unique day camp, born out of a recognized need for local specialized daytime programming for Chai LIfeline kids who could not attend regular mainstream camps due to complex medical needs or due to an increased risk of contracting an infection.

This is Camp Lifeline’s third summer and so much has changed since its inception. We have grown from 8 to 17 kids. We have a new location for this year, at the Beth Avraham Yosef of Toronto. We embarked on our first field trip ever to a local splash pad via school bus and we have gone on many local adventures: the kids love our slurpee walks and fire station visits. And they LOVE singing our new camp song! Each day I cannot believe what we have accomplished.

The children who attend Camp Lifeline come with such complexities that in the event one blinks an eye, anything can happen. Thankfully we’ve never had a major issue, but just in case, we have our wonderful Camp Nurse Orah Rosenberg-Herman onsite. 

Our jam packed schedule under the guidance and direction of Gabrielle Goldenberg. Gabrielle’s a middle school teacher at Netivot HaTorah Day School, and she’s a G-E-N-I-U-S! Each day has its own theme. We’ve had Save the Day, Bubbles Day, Backwards Day and Rainbow Day. Our activities are created around each theme day with support and assistance from Jodi Basch a recent graduate of theUniversity of Ottawa’s teacher’s college.

Welcoming kids between the ages of 4-7 each day to Camp Lifeline is beyond rewarding. I have received many texts from parents thus far telling me “thanks for treating Joey* to such a fun afternoon with a Bubble Show, after his procedure at SickKids® he wasn’t feeling well to head back to camp, but when he heard there was a bubble show, he wanted to be there!”

Another example, camper Lilah*, who we were told does not each much at home, has been happily enjoying her lunch in a fun, friendly atmosphere. Where Dina* was having trouble at home keeping her hearing aids in place as they were bothering her, at Camp Lifeline, she proudly wears them every day.

Making “small miracles” happen each day is something we don’t take for granted. Camp Lifeline truly is a safe haven for the kids of Chai Lifeline. Each day, we the staff reflect on the small miracles and joys that camp has brought. We are excited to come to “work” each morning to bring laughter, cheer, song and dance to those whose lives present the unexpected. I am truly blessed to be a part of this team. A team that would not be possible without the generosity of many donors who themselves made this dream a reality. I welcome you to come check out our Camp Lifeline album online, and see just a glimpse of the happiness we experience each day.

There truly is no other happier day camp around.

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