Max was introduced to Jewish Special Needs programming through the Camp Ramah Tikvah program. He was mentored by legendary Jewish inclusion king, Howard Blas, who helped Max discover his next adventure—a live-in position supporting an adult with disabilities.
I have great admiration for Howard Blas who is the trailblazer in this field. Howard has spearheaded special needs camping for the National Ramah Camping Movement (a branch of the Jewish Theological Seminary – Conservative Movement) for decades. He has enabled this camping movement to set the bar in terms of excellence, caring and community development in terms of camping that is inclusive and directive for the special needs of young adults, even creating programming that enables campers and their families to have needs met (social,vocational, health etc) year round and when thinking young adulthood.
Although the Ramah Camps are limited in terms of the specific demographic they serve, it is a testament to that movement and to Howard that such deep, fine thinking has been done and continues to shape the lives of individuals, their families and communities. The well-developed and ever-responsive model is exemplary and worth learning about, even to then use it to evaluate other programs. The fact that it is also nonprofit and has enormous community support due to how life changing it is (including for ‘typical’ campers who get to know the other campers through daily shared experiences) is just spot-on!
You can speak directly with Howard about how he envisions camp for ASD participants and others with unique profiles, and also check out his blogs and articles. It will get you thinking about what to look for and how effective, fun and caring programming can be rolled out in a well considered, professional, warm manner.