When I was young, I eagerly looked foward to going away to "sleep away" camp every summer. It was a chance to get away from my parents, hang out with new friends and actually see the stars at night. I usually came home feeling more independent, sunburned, and with a new expletive or two learned from my bunkmates.
For our son Danny who has developmental disabilities, as well as his peers with other special needs, the time spent at Camp Ramah CA is in some ways, even more special. And for us, as parents, the time gives us a chance to take a vacation together, catch up with our own friends and maybe even paint that bathr oom we've been meaning do for months.
Here's why the special needs program at Camp Ramah is so great:
Reason #3 It is the only time all year that he is truly part of something "typical", even while being part of a special needs unit. With his professional 1:1 aide, he is able to participate in most of the programming, including an overnight camping trip. He loves the way Shabbat is observed at camp, with special songs, dances and rituals, as well as double time in the pool.
Reason #2-Camp activites aren't dependent on academic acheivement. You don't need to read at grade level to enjoy a nature walk or roasting marshmallows around the fire. The equalizing effect of camp helps everyone to feel self-confident.
Reason #1-Fun, fun, fun--camp is all about doing silly things together in groups, whether it's wearing your pajamas all day or singing until you are hoarse. There's no speech therapy. occupational therapy, or dentist appointments--there's enough of those before and after camp. While you are living in "camp time", there's just long sunny days of smiling-enducing activities.