Many members of our communities have a special connection to Camp HASC. Countless couples have met through working there, parents send their children to attend camp and many teenagers and young adults work as counselors there as well.
Naftali and Freida Rothman of Bergenfield both worked at Camp HASC almost 20 years ago. The HASC experience is one that continues to guide them. As a first grade morah at Yeshivat Noam in Paramus, Freida still draws on her experiences from her summers at HASC.
As they approached the bat mitzvah of their second daughter, Leah, the Rothmans knew they wanted to make HASC a part of their celebrations. “I gained so much from the experiences I had working in HASC; how can I not bring that opportunity to my children?” said Freida. “In HASC you work with campers to achieve goals that others take for granted. This has taught me as a parent and as a teacher how to appreciate what each child can do and who each child is as an individual.”
Leah and Freida chose to run together in the upcoming Jerusalem marathon on Friday, March 15, in Gan Sacher. “Leah is helping raise money for HASC, but her relationship with HASC is more than just the marathon. Because of the impact HASC had on us and continues to have, we wanted her to understand what goes on there and what her efforts are going toward,” said Freida.
The Rothmans visited HASC and gave Leah the chance to observe the environment. “I saw what goes into the HASC experience, including the littlest details,” said Leah, referring to the fact that even decor colors were chosen to create a more therapeutic and calming environment. “Leah also gained an understanding of the overall financial undertaking involved in the programming at HASC, from the therapeutic aquatic center with waterproof wheelchairs to the highly skilled staff on campus,” said Freida.
As for the marathon training? It’s definitely hard work. “When I feel like quitting, then I remember why I started,” said Leah.
The closeness campers feel for their counselors was highlighted for Leah and her sisters when they visited HASC and one of Freida’s former campers came up to them. “My children couldn’t believe that this was the type of relationship created here, that interactions from 20 years ago created such a lasting impression,” she said. Even though the young lady has limited verbal communication, the body language, facial expressions and overall interaction conveyed the closeness of the connection forged two decades earlier. “This is what I have been telling my children and what they saw firsthand. The relationships created at HASC are cherished forever.”
“Organizations like HASC are so rare and special because they literally alter the lives of everyone involved. It offers a vital, warm and inclusive environment to those with special needs, while simultaneously giving the much-needed break of normalcy to the families who have adapted their entire life’s daily structure to care for their loved one,” said Leah’s father Naftali. “But it does not stop there. HASC also helps the helpers. Freida and I are supporting a cause that literally helped shape our perspective on what it means to have, and the joy and character growth that come from giving.”
A parent once told the Rothmans that what HASC means to him and his family is that for eight weeks his son becomes “just one of the kids” instead of the outcast and the minority due to his different abilities and needs. “As a mother, I want my children to be a part of the HASC experience and the selfless giving. We need to appreciate the gifts Hashem has given us and be part of a community that brings these gifts to other children as well. I am running with Leah as a part of HASC and helping them continue to bring what they do to their camp each summer,” Freida concluded.
To learn more about HASC, the marathon or to donate, please visit their website https://go.camphasc.org/team/177901.
By Jenny Gans