2009-06-17 / Kid Stuff

Ramah expands family programming for special needs

Camp Ramah in the Poconos has announced a new initiative with the Tikvah Family Camp, a program designed for Jewish children with developmental and/or social learning disorders, their siblings and parents, to provide an opportunity to experience Jewish summer camping together.

Located at Camp Ramah in the Poconos in Lakewood, PA, the Tikvah Family Camp is a five-day, overnight program incorporating recreation, Jewish learning, and an opportunity to meet and socialize with other families facing similar challenges.

"This is the first of its kind program for Jewish summer camping in the area," said Rabbi Todd Zeff, director of Camp Ramah in the Poconos. "Ramah has always fulfilled a niche in the Jewish community, and this program allows us to expand what we do for families that may never have had a chance to experience Ramah before. As an integral part of the Conservative movement, offering this program is simply the right thing to do."

Running Aug. 19-23, in this, its first year, a typical day at camp includes family activities as well as separate programming for the children, their siblings and parents. Family activities include music, Israeli dancing, aquatics, athletics and art. Other highlights of the camp include singing and s'mores at the campfire, creation of a family scrapbook and opportunities for families to get to know each other and share stories and resources.

Each special needs child is paired with a friend, or "buddy," throughout their time at camp. Siblings are provided with a safe environment to openly discuss the impact of having a brother or sister with special needs. In addition, parents are invited to participate in daily study sessions that explore a variety of issues surrounding raising children with special needs. Babysitting is provided each night after the children go to bed so that parents can attend social activities.

The Tikvah Family Camp provides rich Jewish experiences in an inclusive setting, including daily prayer services, Shabbat observances and celebrations, glatt kosher meals and parent discussions on Jewish topics.

For more information on the Tikvah Family Camp, contact Deborah Musher at (570) 798-2504 or visit www.ramahpoconos.org. .

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