Ezer Mizion’s ten summer camps provide special needs children and children with cancer and other life threatening illnesses the chance to enjoy summer camp – just like other children! Despite handicaps, disabilities and severe illness, over 1,300 campers can experience friendship and fun at Ezer Mizion’s camps this summer.
Vacation: a chance to “recharge our batteries”, to step out of routine, and to draw energy for the coming day-to-day.
For people whose “routine” is defined by medical tests, treatments, and hospital stays, vacation is not a luxury. It is an absolute necessity to step out – even for a few days – from the depths of despair and fear, into blessed moments of joy and release.
Each year, Ezer Mizion coordinates summer camps for children and parents with cancer and their families. Our Summer Camp is the annual highlight of ongoing cancer support activities that Ezer Mizion arranges for these children and their families. The summer camps include exciting activities, trips, fun and entertainment, all under top level medical supervision.
The serious illness of a parent or child impacts the whole family unit. When the entire family is involved in fighting serious illness, those who are closest and most important are often “left behind”. The Summer Camp activities that are geared both for the cancer patients and their family members give the children themselves a chance to relax and, at the same time, to restore the delicate network of family relationships that are strained by repeated hospitalizations through the course of treatment.
At Ezer Mizion, we know that happiness and optimism give cancer patients the strength to fight their illness. A positive state of mind is every bit as vital for recovery as are radiation, chemotherapy and drug therapy. The Ezer Mizion summer camp is the practical response to this need, fortifying cancer patients and their families in their struggle with life threatening illness.
“In Ezer Mizion’s camps, children who have no friends and no social life are surrounded by friends in a structured atmosphere. The children enjoy activities that they would never be able to do otherwise.”
– Mrs. W, mother of two children with Down’s Syndrome
In 1988, Ezer Mizion opened Israel’s first summer camp for children with special needs. Since then, the network of Ezer Mizion special needs summer camps has grown to include 7 camps, over 1,500 staff members and volunteers and over 1,200 children with physical handicaps, brain damage, cerebral palsy, Down’s syndrome, autism, blindness, deafness and emotional disorders. For these youngsters and their families, Ezer Mizion’s summer camps are the highlight of the entire year.
The camps, called “B’Lev Sameach” – literally, “With a Happy Heart” – have a full schedule of exciting activities, outings and recreation from morning to night, with all meals and transportation included. The children enjoy live entertainment, trips to amusement parks, zoos, and beaches, and visits to the Kotel and other special places. All of the children are paired with individual counselors who shower them with one-on-one attention, care, and love.
Families of children with special needs also benefit greatly from the B’Lev Sameach summer camps. The camps operate when all other educational frameworks are closed to these children, who can be difficult to maintain at home. Caring for physically or mentally challenged children is often very taxing, and parents and siblings are grateful for the respite provided by the B’Lev Sameach camps. The camps allow parents to devote time to their other children and to themselves, making this a period of relaxation, rejuvenation and renewal for the entire family.