The weather forecast predicted cloudy skies, maybe some rain and a chance of tornadoes when Camp Simcha brought 120 young campers to Manhattan one day last week.
Camp Simcha brought its weather too.
“It never rains at Camp Simcha” is a popular expression at the 125-acre campsite in upstate Glen Spey, says Rabbi Simcha Scholar, executive vice president of the camp for Jewish children with cancer (campsimcha.org) — and its sister, Camp Simcha Special, for children with other serious illnesses — that is marking its 25th anniversary this year.
Both are sponsored by Chai Lifeline (chailifeline.org).
To mark the occasion, the camp brought six busloads of youngsters, ages 5-20, and nearly 300 counselors, nurses and other support staff, to the Big Apple for a day trip.
The rain never showed up. “God had other plans,” Rabbi Scholar said.
Camp Simcha campers regularly come to New York City for an outing. This year, in addition to a cruise and Off-Broadway play, they danced in Times Square.
Leader of the day’s activities was head counselor Ari Dembitzer.
For a half-hour at dusk, the campers put on a show, a spirited flag dance.
Wearing custom-made hats and T-shirts, they entertained the crowd.
For many, it was their first time here.
“They were awed. They were singing. They were proud,” Rabbi Scholar says — even though many of the children are bald, a side effect of chemotherapy.
“They showed the world that children with cancer are normal,” he says, “that they need to be treated normally.”
People watched from the street and from the windows of Times Square towers. “There were people crying, there were people dancing,” the rabbi says.
The kids had a video of the dancing posted on YouTube.
The police, Rabbi Scholar says, helped the kids get around the city. “They stopped traffic for 120 kids with cancer.”
After the dancing, the kids went back to camp. “They were exhausted,” the rabbi says, “but they were charged.”
And they were dry.