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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

While Camp HASC has become synonymous with high-quality care, recreation and education for individuals with special needs for seven weeks during the summer, not everyone is aware that Camp HASC provides programming and desperately needed respite for families throughout the year as well.

The Simchaton, an annual event, brought together close to 400 special children and staff and provided campers the remarkable opportunity to return to their summer home for two amazing days of Yom Tov.

Each camper was able to fully participate in the festivities of the Chag, while allowing the families of the campers to celebrate Yom Tov as any other family does.

As the buses pulled up to camp, there was tangible excitement and joy on the faces of the campers and staff, returning to the safe haven where there were are no boundaries and no limitations to hold them back.

For two unforgettable, inspiring days of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, everyone was able to participate. Everyone had a place in shul. Davening, singing, learning and, of course, dancing with the Torah… Individuals in wheelchairs and with walkers, children on their counselors’ shoulders, holding hands, all together: Everyone was included and a part of the celebration. There was true simcha, and a real meaningful expression of Simchat Torah.

Every boy received an aliyah, and there was room for everyone under the massive spread of Talleisim for Kol Haniorim. Campers delivered Divrei Torah at each seuda, and were cheered on by all. Despite the cold weather outside, the feelings on campus were quite warm!

Thank you to the staff and Camp HASC volunteers who spent many hours organizing and arranging the Simchaton. I am sure that watching all that went on during Simchaton and knowing how much you helped so many families in so many ways made all the hard work worthwhile.

One camper’s mother commented that beyond the relaxation and respite, Shemini Atzeret was the only Yom Tov that they are able to host guests or go out for meals. Everyone is a winner when we help each other!

What an amazing and uplifting Yom Tov, for the special children and dedicated staff who participated, as well as for their families.

During the summer, and all year round, camp HASC is bringing chesed and “Simchat Torah” to the Jewish community!

By Reeba Oestrich, Principal, Camp HASC Academics Program