Tikvah Directors From Across the Country Working Together!
Imagine my delight when directors of seven Ramah programs serving campers with special needs participated in a 90 minute conference call this past Sunday to discuss programming, staff training, Israel Trips, best practices, etc. As the "senior member" of this group (this is my 10th summer directing Tikvah at CRNE) and as the director of the first Tikvah Program (we celebrate "Tikvah at 40" this summer!), I have long felt the directors should meet more regularly to share and support each other. And I was encouraged and supported by Rabbi Mitch Cohen, the National Ramah Director and former Director of Ramah in the Canada; Mitch was the director when Tikvah Canada was founded many years ago. Mitch and our own, Leora Kimmel Greene, who also works part time as a programming assistant in the National Ramah Office, also joined for the call, which was productive and even magical!
The directors, calling in from Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Canada, New York, New Jersey and Colorado took time out of their busy lives to discuss something we all care about very dearly–Jewish Special Needs camping. We are proud to be pioneers and leaders in this field, and we continue to grow and evolve. Our programs serve different populations. The Wisconsin program, for example, mainly serves campers with Asperger Syndrome (most go to college), and the Poconos and Darom offer Yofi-type family camping programs for families with a child with autism. The Vocational Program in Wisconsin takes members in to the town of Eagle River where they work, while our program works in camp exclusively-and we are the only ones to offer a Guest House. The other directors were excited to be invited to our "Tikvah at 40" celebration on July 11th. I hope they can come! Our next steps include ongoing webinars with the Tikvah Directors, and expanding our Community of Practice to include all Tikvah Staff members from across the country. Rabbi Cohen has long dreamed of connecting staff members who work with our special needs groups–in this way, they can share best practices, offer support, tell amazing stories, and learn about career opportunities in the field.
We look forward to working closely with our friends in the other Ramah camps!