Amitzim and Voc Ed went on Etgar together this week, traveling an hour north of camp to the Tully Lake Campground. The campers all had a fantastic time! Our first stop Tuesday was to the Red Apple Farm, where we enjoyed a hayride to the apple orchard—we got to eat apples after saying the bracha (blessing) for “fruits of the tree.” We then ate lunch, fed farm animals, and picked blueberries and peaches.
We then walked our supplies to the beautiful campsite and started our etgar! We built our tents and some hiked to a waterfall while others canoed on beautiful Tully Lake. We all enjoyed a great pasta and salad dinner, followed by songs and stories (and s’mores!) around a campfire. All then returned to their tents for the night. The next day we switched hiking and canoeing, and did some nature art projects, so everyone got to experience all of the activities.
The trip truly highlighted how special our Tikvah program is. For many Tikvah campers, the Etgar trip is the only camping experience they will ever have. One couple we met staying in the same campground saw us praying outside in the morning and were struck both by our participants themselves and our commitment to Jewish practice. To me, that is the essence of Tikvah- allowing individuals with special needs the same opportunities as everyone else to try new experiences and challenge themselves both physically and Jewishly.