I have one of the best jobs in the world! I am the director of the Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England Our Tikvah Program is the oldest and largest of our Ramah camping programs serving adolescents and young adults with special needs. I am lucky enough to spend 9 weeks each summer working with campers, families, staff and the entire Ramah community as we deliver meaningful Jewish experiences to campers with autism, intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, social skills impairments, and more. I work for Ramah New England year round as we continue to expand and improve our already wonderful camping, vocational training and inclusion programs.
And, in my capacity as consultant on special needs programs to the National Ramah Commission, I get to work year round with my colleagues in all of the Ramah camps as they too work to expand their programs for campers with special needs. We have been conducting year round workshops and events for staff—both in person and online, and we have offered several “off season” activities for Ramah campers with special needs. Many of our camps participate in weekly “Shabbos is Calling” or similar video conferences—to connect campers and staff year round.
Campers with special needs benefit tremendously for the opportunity to participate in all aspects of the Jewish community. Ramah camps offer these experiences. Thanks to the Ramah Israel Bike Ride, we have been able to raise money to offer campers with special needs—in the US and Canada—scholarships and exceptional programming.
In May, 2011, I participated in the first ever ride—I regularly look at photos of my fellow riders and I riding through the Golan Heights and the Galil as we raised money for this important cause. Now, we are preparing for our 2nd Ramah Israel Bike Ride—April 23-30--this time, from Jerusalem to Eilat. I am hard at work recruiting riders and training. I would be honored, delighted and appreciative if you would consider sponsoring me. Last year, the support of family, colleagues and friends was extraordinary. I hope to raise $10,000 this year!
I am proud that Ramah has taken the lead in the Jewish special needs camping world. Camps, schools, shuls, foundations and others—in the Jewish and secular worlds—turn to us for advice and guidance as they establish and support special needs programs. Help us continue to be leaders in the field. Help us make it possible for Jewish adolescents and young adults with special needs to attend Ramah!