We are committed to providing Reform Jewish experiences to
all children, including those with special needs. Here are a few of our
favorite stories of how our programs have impacted young people with
When The Entire Camp Is A Challenge Course Molly is a nine-year-old camper at Greene Family
Camp. Born with Cerebral Palsy, she is used to facing challenges. But, with
the help of the camp community, Molly is gaining confidence, overcoming
obstacles and accomplishing her goals. She's realizing that it's okay to be
different and that it's rewarding to stand up to challenges.
Every Child Has Something To Offer The text message caught Susan Weiner off-guard. "Got the
flyer. I am going to Washington." Susan's son Jacob, who has
been diagnosed with PDD-NOS and bipolar syndrome, heard about the RAC
L'Taken Seminar, where teens learn about social justice and lobby on Capitol
Hill, and wanted to go
Ethan Goes To Camp: Mainstreaming Kids With Special Needs Since his diagnosis of autism at age 2,
Ethan's parents have worked hard to "mainstream" him into everyday
activities. So, when it came to picking a camp, everyone knew he was
ready. During his summer at Camp Newman, Ethan improved his social skills,
gained independence and matured in a loving environment.
These summer programs at the URJ Camps are open to participants with disabilities from throughout North America:
Mitzvah Corps at Kutz (NY) Ages 13-19 A "camp within a camp" immersion program at URJ Kutz Camp that incorporates peer-to-peer mentorship into a broader, more mainstream camping experience for teens on the Autism Spectrum.
NEW! Chadash Program for Young Adults at URJ Camp Coleman (GA) Ages 18-24 A program for young adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities who seek the opportunity to participate in the joy of a URJ Camp community. Chadash will provide vocational training in a supervised work setting along with an opportunity for the participants to join in a wide range of recreational, social, and educational components of camp life.
In addition to these specialized programs, all 14 of our URJ Camps have Inclusion Coordinators, trained professionals hired by each of our camps to support campers with special needs, who are prepared to work with caregivers and professionals to plan for and provide a fulfilling camp experience for all children.
Sometimes it feels like "inclusion" is a buzz word. Talking about
inclusion is "in" right now. It's on the radar of the URJ, our
congregations, our school systems, and our communities. Growing up with a
neurological disorder, Tourette Syndrome, Pam Schuller was on the other end of
the inclusion talk. Now, as a youth professional, she tries to teach the
idea that inclusion is not about what we can't do because we are accommodating
teens with special needs, but what we get to do because our community is
growing with our members.