February is Jewish Disability Awareness Month (JDAM). JDAM unites Jewish communities and organizations for the purpose of raising awareness and supporting meaningful inclusion of people with disabilities and their families in every aspect of Jewish life.
Each year, Jewish camps expand their program to make camp accessible to more and more kids. Many Jewish camps have inclusion programs in place while others offer opportunities that are solely for campers with special needs, ensuring that all children have the opportunity to experience camp.
The Union for Reform Judaism recently announced a new initiative for special needs programs in their camps and Israel programs. The organization, which already has two programs for Autistic teens in place at NFTY’s Kutz Camp in Warwick, NY and one at Camp Newman in Santa Rosa, CA, are introducing Chazak at Eisner and Crane Lake Camps in Great Barrington, MA and West Stockbridge, MA respectively. The new programs are for kids from fifth through eighth grades with communication and social delays.
The Ramah Camping Movement offers the Tikvah program at seven Ramah camps in North America. Each of the programs serves a slightly different population of children with special needs including various learning, emotional, developmental, and social disabilities as well as autism spectrum disorders, neurological impairments, and physical challenges. Some programs are integrated while others are not.
Round Lake Camp (a NJ Y Camp) in Lakewood, PA offers a unique experience for Attention Deficit Disorder, Hyperactivity and Learning Disabilities children.
JCC Maccabi Camp Kingswood in Bridgton, ME has a special fully integrated program – Zohar – for campers with developmental disabilities.
Capital Camps in Waynesboro, PA has an inclusive special needs program called Atzma’im for campers with emotional and developmental disabilities.
Camp JRF in South Sterling, PA is expanding this summer. Shemesh is geared towards campers with autism, cognitive delays, developmental challenges, moderate speech and processing issues, and some forms of physical disabilities.
Camp Charles Pearlstein in Prescott, AZ accommodates campers with many behavioral, physical, and dietary needs.
Camp Simcha in Glen Spey, NY is a very special and unique Jewish camp for children with cancer and other medically catastrophic illnesses.
Camp Livingston in Bennington, IN is inclusive of children with various emotional and developmental disabilities.
JCC Camp Chi in Lake Delton, WI works with Keshet to enable children with disabilities including autism, Asperger’s syndrome, Down’s syndrome, and more to participate as fully as possible in all aspects of camp life.
We encourage you to visit our website for more options, follow up with the camps above and any camp you are interested in, for additional details as many deal on a case by case basis.