Camp Simcha to Provide Children on the Autism Spectrum With Transformative Jewish Family Camping Experience
May 17, 2007For most families of children with autistic spectrum disorder, summer camp has been an unreachable dream, one more experience that is unattainable for their special children. This year, however, Camp Simcha is going to provide Reform Jewish families a camping experience in a safe, supportive environment. From August 5-9, these children and their families will enjoy all the activities of summer camp in a safe, supportive environment.
Camp Simcha, which is the newest camping program offered by the Union for Reform Judaism for children with special needs, has been designed to provide both the children and their siblings, parents and grandparents with a program that meets their particular needs.
Over the past few years, there has been a growing understanding of the needs of children on the autism spectrum, said Lisa David, associate director of camping for URJ Camps. While weve had programs for autistic children before, Camp Simcha is the first program for autistic children and their families.
For the past 13 years, the Kutz Campus for Reform Jewish Teen Life has offered a Mitzvah Corps program pairing Reform teen leaders with peers who are on the autism spectrum. Over the years this program has proven very popular with both populations it serves.
Camp Simcha (which translates as a joyous event) will take place at the URJ Greene Family Camp in Bruceville, TX. The program incorporates camp experiences that fit the special requirements of these children and their families, including waterfront and adventure activities, sports, music, crafts, and wonderful evening programs complete with Israeli dancing and song sessions.
Camp Simcha and the Kutz Mitzvah Corps will be supervised by Program Director Dona Hare, who has more than 20 years of experience with special needs populations, and a well-trained staff team.
In addition to excitement of the camp activities, caregivers, siblings, and parents will participate in support groups and education a session designed to provide information for dealing with and celebrating the challenges and joys of caring for those on the autism spectrum.
Camp Simcha is co-sponsored by the URJ Camps, the URJ Department of Jewish Family Concerns and the URJ Greene Family Camp and is made possible through a generous grant from the O. Paul Decker Memorial Foundation. For more information about Camp Simcha please visit www.urj.org/camps/simcha or for the Kutz Campus for Reform Jewish Teen Life please visit www.kutz.urjcamps.org.
The Union for Reform Judaism (formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations) is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, uniting 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues. Union services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programs, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C.