Lisa Blumenthal: “The Magic Power of Inclusion Happens From Within”
This piece was written by Lisa Blumenthal (photo, above), of our tzevet (staff):
Last year, after working at Camp Ramah for several summers, my youngest daughter said to me one night, “I’m confused. What is your job at camp? I heard you are the Special Inclusionist.” How enchanting! My eyes lit up as I made word associations and imagined my role somewhere between Special Forces and Master llusionist (photo, below). Suddenly my job seemed empowering and magical. Children never fail to provide a refreshing perspective! When I told her that I was actually the “Inclusion Specialist,” she looked disappointed. I’ve always been uncomfortable with how technical and formal the title feels for such a personal and fluid job. The conversation got me thinking. Regardless of the language, what is this job really about? That’s when I realized she was onto something. The ultimate goal of the Inclusion Specialist, is to turn all campers and staff into “Special Inclusionists”. Upon doing so, the magic power of inclusion happens from within.
In every age group at camp, there are children with challenges thriving in typical bunks. These campers receive an extra level of support from the Inclusion Specialists to assure their success at camp. The degree of support is entirely tailored to the individual needs of each child in our program. Then, we guide the rest of the campers and staff to teach them how to be Special Inclusionists. In their role, they learn the virtue of patience, the art of listening, and the gift of realizing that differences make our community stronger. The message is clear and the Inclusionists put it into action every hour of every day, creating a culture of inclusion that is highly valued.
I remind all campers frequently that they should feel proud being part of a camp that strives to be accessible to anyone who wants to come, regardless of ability. Every camper and every staff member plays a part in making that a reality. You know it’s working when a camper in our program says, “I feel like I made a year’s worth of progress in 1 week.” Or, “Camp is my happy place. It’s where I am most accepted.”
As the Inclusion Specialist at Camp Ramah, I would like to recognize all the Special Inclusionists across camp that help to make this happen.