Editor's Note: Thanks to our friends at the Foundation for Jewish Camp for coordinating this series of blogs from camp. More voices to come!
We have all heard that Jewish summer camp is one of the most valuable experiences a parent can give their child to ensure a strong Jewish foundation. If you think of it as a construction project, the earth underneath the foundation is the community and together, this community builds the foundation they share. As each child grows into an adult, the shared experience of community-building in a Jewish context continues to strengthen his or her Jewish foundation.
Editor's Note: Ben Schorr is the son of Rabbi Rebecca Schorr, a regular blogger here at the New Normal who writes about Ben, his autism and the highs and challenges of family life on the spectrum. This summer, Ben wrote the below article for his camp newspaper, The Round Lake Times. He gave us permission to reprint it here on the blog.
Editor’s Note: In this piece, Matan co-founder Meredith Polsky sings the praises of the inclusive Jewish summer camp where she works – and sends her children – during the summer. A follow-up from a camp administrator will describe the various elements that must be in place to create such a program: culture, funding and a lot of hard work. Stay tuned.
During the summer, I have the great privilege of working at one of the first inclusive Jewish summer camps in the country. The Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington has been a model of inclusion for over thirty years. Every child is welcome, no matter what the disability. We have campers in wheelchairs, campers with feeding tubes, campers with Down Syndrome and Autism and Rett Syndrome, just to name a few.
The other day, I had a vague sense that I was supposed to be doing something; that I’d forgotten something. I glanced down at my watch: 2:10 p.m., and I panicked. Ben takes his afternoon meds at 2:00 p.m. But I don’t have to give Ben his meds because he is away at camp for the month.
Editor's Note: Molly Mittman is a second-year camper from Temple Shalom in Dallas. She is 9 years old and going into the 4th grade. Find the rest of her essay here.
My name is Molly and I am a camper at Greene Family Camp. I was born with Cerebral Palsy (CP). My CP mainly affects my balance because the muscles in my legs get tired easily. Even though I have CP, I am still just a regular camper. I have goals for myself that I want to accomplish by the end of the session.
Less than one week of school remains for my kids, and that means that sleepaway camp for my son Ben, who has autism, is right around the corner. And up until a few weeks ago, I was dreading it more than looking forward to it, which might seem strange given the post I recently wrote about how much I and caregivers like me need a break sometimes.
An enthusiastic group of 72 bike riders and hikers, ages 13-73, arrived in Eilat on April 30 after biking since April 24 all the way from Jerusalem. They made the trip -- the Ramah Israel Challenge -- to support special needs programs at Ramah camps in the United States and Canada.
Jewish overnight camps are serving more children with disabilities and special needs than had previously been believed, but are doing little to publicize or market these offerings, according to a preliminary study released Wednesday by the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC).
At the recent GISHA Conference on Jewish Special Education at Hebrew College, I had the privilege of hearing the personal story of a husband and wife and their years-long attempts to find a Jewish space in which their children – both struck with the same severe neurological disorder – could make Jewish friends and strengthen their Jewish identity.