February 25th, 2019

Below is a note from Moss Herberholz, our Director of Inclusion, regarding the expansion of our vocational education program. To learn more about this program, visit the Program page on our website!

Moss Herberholz, Director of Inclusion

As we expand our vocational education program, we hope to provide Jewish young adults with special needs an opportunity to receive job training, learn life skills, improve social skills, and engage in Jewish learning with peers, all while enjoying time in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

We hope that expanding our program will allow our inclusion campers to continue being a part of our kehilah kedoshah (holy community) even after they have aged out of our inclusion program. Unlike our neurotypical campers, who we often welcome back as staff members, up until now this kind of opportunity has been inaccessible to many of our inclusion campers.

We also hope that expanding our program will open our kehilah kedoshah (holy community) to new faces. We are excited to provide the opportunity to spend an extended period of time living and engaging in meaningful work while in an outdoor environment to Jewish young adults who were not campers at Ramah in the Rockies.

This past summer it was a joy to watch our returning vocational educational participant as he pushed passed his comfort level and grew. He spent the summer effectively and independently completing tasks in pack-out and on the farm. In pack-out he helped prepare food and other materials for masa’ot (backpacking trips). On the farm he took care of the animals, helped cultivate crops, and independently lead campers in activities for the first time. It is my hope to see many more vocational education participants learning and growing just as this vocational education participant continues to do.

Director of Inclusion, Moss Herberholz

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.

Click here to learn more about our inclusion program!
Click here to read about how an inclusion model benefits our whole community!