The Tikvah Program at Camp Ramah in New England is one of the first summer programs for Jewish children with special needs. Nearly 40 years old, the Tikvah Program continues to grow and evolve as it strives to serve campers with a wide range of special needs. The Tikvah Program consists of three tracks: Amitzim, Tochnit Avodah, and Inclusion. The Amitzim program offers 13-18 year olds the full range of Ramah camper activities. Tochnit Avodah offers vocational training, socialization and group living experience to graduates of Amitzim. Finally, our innovative inclusion program offers younger campers support in typical bunks.
For our Amitizm campers, the highly structured day offers opportunities to learn and grow by doing. Campers participate in swimming, arts and crafts, Israeli dancing and singing, sports, Jewish learning and such chugim (electives) as boating, photography, nature and the ropes course/climbing tower. Bunk life and various trips provide our campers with opportunities to learn skills associated with daily living and to gain independence.
Socialization and Inclusion
Tikvah campers live on the B-side of camp in close proximity to our older campers. There are numerous formal and informal opportunities to interact with all campers at Ramah, including “buddy” programs, joint bunk and divisional activities, and informal meetings. Tikvah campers participate in all camp-wide activities, perform a play and lead Shabbat services. Inclusion campers participate fully in their bunks and edot.
Like all Ramah campers, Tikvah Program participants are fully immersed in Jewish life and Hebrew language. From spirited, musical morning prayers to daily interaction with Israelis, Hebrew singing and dancing in the dining room, and performing a Hebrew-rich play for the entire camp, Tikvah campers enjoy the beauty of their religion and culture. Some have even celebrated b’nai mitzvah at camp!
Attention to Detail — Putting Health and Safety First
Specially-trained counselors and senior staff monitor each campers’ special needs, from seizures to allergies to mobility issues. Counselors assist as needed with self-care, and alert medical staff are always available as issues arise. Doctors, nurses and the Tikvah Director carefully manage health, medical and medication issues.
The Tikvah Director is in close contact with these important partners. Through weekly newsletters and frequent e-mails and calls, the director works collaboratively with parents and such team members as therapists and physicians. Campers write home and eagerly await letters and e-mails from their parents. A Parent Retreat with the Tikvah Director and other experts affords parents an opportunity to learn and get to know each other.