Camp Simcha Special FAQ
- What is Camp Simcha Special?
- Who can attend?
- My child has multiple diagnoses and/or is dependent on medical equipment. Can s/he come to camp?
- What’s Camp Simcha like?
- Who will take care of my child?
- Where will my child live?
- What about my child’s diet?
- What about medication and supplies?
- Should I stay near camp?
- Will you keep me informed?
- Can I visit?
- How much does Camp Simcha cost?
- What is Camp Simcha/Special’s vaccination policy?
Camp Simcha Special is a medically supervised overnight camp for children and teens living with cancer or other blood disorders.
Camp Simcha Special is open to children ages 8-17 who are chronically ill or who have genetic disorders or physical disabilities that make it impossible for them to attend other overnight camps. Campers should be cognitively functioning at grade level.
Campers are accepted after the submission of a complete application, including medical forms that must be completed by your child’s physician. All applications are reviewed by our medical director prior to acceptance.
Of course! Camp Simcha Special is one of the few camps designed to meet the medical and social needs of children and teens with multiple diagnoses and disabilities. Many of our campers are dependent on medication and/or medical equipment, including wheelchairs, walkers, trach tubes, gastric tubes, and other equipment.
In many ways, Camp Simcha is like every other sleep-away camp. Our campers participate in sports, swimming, boating, arts and crafts and crafts workshops. They climb on our climbing wall and whiz down our zip line. They play paintball, engage in photography and videography, work on the camp newspaper and participate in our many shows. There are also concerts, interactive games and shows throughout the summer sessions.
In some important ways, though, Camp Simcha is very different from other camps. Every building and facility is handicapped accessible. Even our swimming pool has a ramp and water-submersible wheelchairs so that everyone can experience the magic of water play. We play adaptive sports and adapt our other activities to foster inclusion. Camp Simcha’s medical team, which consists of pediatric oncologists, nurses, physical and respiratory therapists, EMTs, and a pharmacist, carefully guard our children’s health and safety.
Perhaps most critical is that your child is in an environment where he or she is no longer “that kid with cancer.” By normalizing illness, we give children the chance to be kids again, to enjoy themselves, to make friends, to forget about illness or to talk about it with the only people who will truly understand them.
Your child will have his or her own counselor, a loving and compassionate individual whose goal is to ensure that your child has a great experience at camp. The staff to camper ratio is 2:1. Rotating counselors, specialists, waterfront counselors and wait staff interact with campers and provide additional assistance when needed. Children who require significant daily living assistance often have two counselors.
The entire staff is carefully screened, including reference and background checks. In addition, all staff receives a thorough orientation before each session begins.
Your child will reside in a climate controlled, handicapped-accessible cabin with five other campers and their counselors.
Camp Simcha is a kosher facility. Special diets are accommodated with a big smile from our chef, who takes all dietary restrictions as a challenge to produce nutritious and very tasty food that campers will love. Please let the camp know of all allergies, restrictions, and food preferences when completing the application forms.
You must supply all medical supplies, including medications, and all equipment that your child needs on a daily basis. Please pack two weeks’ worth of medication and supplies.
Medication is dispensed by our medical staff. Whenever possible, the staff comes to the camper, alleviating trips to the Medical Center and further normalizing the camping experience.
No! Your child’s camp stay is your time off. We urge you to use this time to rejuvenate and relax. Spend time with your other children, go on vacation, or just chill out at home while your child is having a great time at camp. We do ask that you leave a local contact if you plan to travel.
We make every effort to call parents (or their local contacts) if there is a significant change in a child’s health or in an emergency. In addition, campers can call home at any time, and you can call camp to speak with your child and his/her counselor.
We have a camp blog and post daily pictures on our website. In addition, parents can register for ParentSpace for access to a restricted portion that has additional content.
Sorry, but we do not allow visitors in camp.
Camp is totally free. When we say free, we mean it. Even our well-stocked canteen is free. We even pay for transportation from your home city. However, you are responsible for baggage and any other fees (including oxygen) levied by the airlines.
As the United States battles the worst measles outbreak in decades, Camp Simcha/Special has taken several steps to protect the health and safety of our campers, staff and their families. In consultation with our medical staff, we are enforcing a strict immunization policy, requiring documentation of MMR vaccinations, for all campers and have taken special precautions to accommodate those with medical exemptions. Visitors who are not immunized against measles, or are unsure if they were immunized or have adequate immunity may NOT enter camp. Individuals who have a fever or rash may NOT visit camp. Individuals who are concerned that they have been exposed to measles in the preceding 4 weeks may NOT visit camp. Measles is extremely contagious and potentially life threatening to our campers. We appreciate your cooperation.