April 14, 2024
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Camp Mesorah’s Yachad Program: A Benefit to All

On July 21st, Camp Mesorah hosted a Yachad 5K Color Run! The entire camp was involved and had a fantastic time running to support Yachad.

Camp Mesorah is proud to partner with Yachad to host two life-changing summer camp experiences, the Yachad Camper-Inte­grated Program and the Yachad Vocational Program.

In the Camper-Integrated Program, Yachad members, along with the help of a shadow, are integrated in mainstream bunks. One-on-one support offers assis­tance with daily living skills and social inter­actions so kids with special needs can be in­tegrated in age-appropriate bunks.

“For some of our Yachad members, this is the most integrated experience they have all year,” said Chani Herrmann, Pro­gram Director for Yachad at Camp Meso­rah and Director of Yachad in New Jersey. “They get to be a kid like everyone else.”

For a handful of the Yachad members, being able to attend the same camp as their siblings makes the integrated sum­mer even more meaningful.

“The program is not only beneficial for the Yachad members, but it’s great for main­stream campers,” said Herrmann. “Campers learn to become more sensitive to others who are different. This experience helps them become more aware of what it means to in­clude someone.”

Young adults with special needs who participate in Yachad’s Vocational Pro­gram at Camp Mesorah live in their own bunk with specially trained counselors who help them become part of the staff community. They participate in a vari­ety of jobs around camp such as sorting mail, helping out in the kitchen, or assist­ing in the day camp. Additionally, most of Camp Mesorah’s specialty activities have a Yachad vocational member pitching in at one point during the day.

“Work experience creates a sense of accomplishment,” said Herrmann. “The Yachad members have the opportunity to be part of the Camp Mesorah staff com­munity while being able to interact with their peers.”

Yachad members and their shadows create goals and then participate in jobs around camp that will reach these goals. Members also have time in their schedule to enjoy regular camp activities like swim­ming, arts and crafts, and sports.

“My first real experience with special needs was as at a Yachad Shabbaton at Camp Hillel 20 years ago,” said Herrmann. “To see this type of program go from one Shabbos a year to a fully integrated sum­mer program is incredible!”

By P’nina Seplowitz

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