Over the past two years, Ramah in the Rockies has moved away from a stand-alone Tikvah program, transitioning to a full inclusion model that provides a high level of integration and support for young people with autism spectrum disorders. More than anything, this change has been made in order to fulfill the needs of our chalutzim (campers), as well as enrich both our program and community as a whole.
Our masa’ot (backcountry excursions), which run every other week throughout the summer season, have historically caused challenges for our Tikvah campers that we were unequipped to handle. We realized that, as a community, we are much better able to serve a population of campers who are high functioning but need additional support in dealing with emotional and social issues, particularly when it comes to providing these campers with an enriching and empowering masa experience.
Since transitioning to a full inclusion model, we have been able to serve up to eight inclusion campers each session. By expanding the number of our Inclusion Specialist staff who work directly with these campers, we have been able to provide the structure and support that allows them to have a successful camp experience. In the coming years, we hope to increase the support we provide for all staff that work with our inclusion campers on a day-to-day basis, so that our tzevet (staff) feel empowered to engage more fully with our inclusion campers.
In addition to strengthening our Inclusion Program, we hope to continue expanding our Vocational Education Program by welcoming between four and five vocational education participants, including one who is a former Tikvah camper from Ramah in the Rockies. With the support of our inclusion team, they will be working in specialty areas throughout the ranch. As this program continues to grow, we hope to eventually have the ability to accommodate up to eight Vocational Education participants at a time!
We are excited to see how these programs flourish in the years to come, feel confident that these changes will strengthen the culture of inclusion at camp, and know that they will bring us closer to our goal of providing transforming experiences of Jewish summer camp to as many individuals as we can.